Ayshford among players farewelled

Several current and former Vodafone Warriors will be among a group of 27 retiring or departing players farewelled during the build-up to the NRL grand final between the Sydney Roosters and the Canberra Raiders at ANZ Stadium tonight.

The NRL will pay tribute to current Vodafone Warrior Blake Ayshford as well as former Mount Smart Stadium favourites James Maloney and Jeremy Latimore.

Club legend Manu Vatuvei, who finished his 226-game NRL career midway through the 2017 season, will also be belatedly recognised.

Another among those acknowledged will be former Vodafone Junior Warrior Sosia Feki.

Paul Gallen (Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks), Greg Inglis (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Robbie Farah (Wests Tigers), John Sutton (South Sydney Rabbitohs) and Tim Mannah (Parramatta Eels) will be honoured.

Sydney Roosters halfback Cooper Cronk, who will be playing in the grand final, will not be part of the official parade, but will be acknowledged as part of the ceremony.

Other players who will be part of the retiring players presentation are: Latimore (St George Illawarra Dragons), Sam Tagataese (Brisbane Broncos), Michael Gordon (Gold Coast Titans), Shaun Fensom (Brisbane Broncos), Ayshford (Vodafone Warriors), Will Matthews (Gold Coast Titans), Robbie Rochow (Wests Tigers), Trent Hodkinson (Manly Warringah Sea Eagles), Nathan Ross (Newcastle Knights), Kaysa Pritchard (Parramatta Eels), Greg Eastwood (Bulldogs), Greg Bird (Gold Coast Titans), George Burgess (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Sosaia Feki (Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks), Manu Vatuvei (Warriors) and Shaun Kenny-Dowall (Newcastle Knights).

“This is a wonderful list,” NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said.

“We have five 300-gamers, representative stars and premiership winners from each of the past seven seasons, including Paul Gallen and John Sutton, who captained their respective teams to grand final wins.

“And obviously this year’s group also includes Cooper Cronk, who has the chance to retire following a third consecutive grand final win.

“It will be wonderful to acknowledge this group on grand final day and the parade will once again be one of the real highlights of the day.”

The entertainment spectacular will include a performance by world-renowned band OneRepublic, including a collaboration with Sydney artist Thandi Phoenix.

Australian artists Daryl Braithwaite, Christine Anu and Natalie Bassingthwaighte will also perform throughout the event.