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One-Game Warriors named

They’re the once were Warriors – and one still is – now brought together in our One-Game Warriors line-up in the latest edition of special Vodafone Warriors selections revealed on ‘Team List Tuesday’ in association with the Alternative Commentary Collective (ACC).

The Vodafone Warriors’ 243-man all-time rosters includes 16 players who have the shared distinction of making just one NRL appearance for the club during their careers.

Most of them never played another first-grade match for any other club, two appeared briefly for other clubs while two have since become established NRL players.

Perhaps there’s a sense of unfinished business mixed with disappointment after playing just one game for the Vodafone Warriors but, if there is, those players should console themselves that there are thousands of wannabe NRL footballers who would die be in their shoes.

The first one-game Warrior dates back to the club’s second season in 1996 when Ellerslie Eagles junior Doc (David) Murray (#34) made his solitary Auckland Warriors appearance at fullback against Manly. By 1997 Murray was with the Wigan Warriors in the English Super League, playing eight times for the club before later returning home where he played and coached in the Bay of Plenty.

The most recent member of the club is current squad member Taane Milne, whose 2020 season was ended by an ACL injury in March. After 18 NRL games for St George Illawarra, he became Vodafone Warrior #239 when he made his first and, so far, only NRL appearance for the club in the 24-20 win over the Canberra Raiders in the last round of the 2019 regular season.

Named at fullback in this selection is Otahuhu Leopards junior Paul Atkins, who gained lasting notoriety for running it straight at feared Englishman Adrian Morley in his only Vodafone Warriors first-grade outing against the Sydney Roosters in 2004. A New Zealand Universities and New Zealand Maori representative, Atkins was poleaxed not once, but twice. His debut and his life since became the subject of an award-winning feature produced by Sky Sport.

Selected on one wing (Milne on the other) is Siuatonga Likiliki who had a glittering career with the Vodafone Junior Warriors in the now-defunct NYC, helping the side to the 2010 premiership. He became Vodafone Warrior #155 against Parramatta in 2009 before later signing for the Newcastle Knights – two appearances in 2011 – and later linking with Gold Coast without adding to his first-grade tally.

Named in the centres with Murray is the versatile Meti Noovao, who has the singular distinction of being a one-game player for both the Warriors and the Adelaide Rams. The second one-game Warrior after Murray, the former Cook Islands international made his first-grade debut from the bench as Warrior #56 in the club’s Super League loss to the Perth Reds in 1997 en route to the United Kingdom for the World Club Challenge. There the brother of former Silver Ferns captain Ana Noovao played all three matches against St Helens, Bradford and Warrington (not recognised as official appearances) but never appeared for the club again at top level.

Standoff Daniel Regan made his one appearance as Vodafone Warrior #150 against South Sydney in 2009. An accomplished footballer, he was the club’s first NYC captain and later spent time in the Melbourne Storm’s system without adding to his NRL tally before returning home and pursuing a building career.

Halfback Erin Clark was rated one of the country’s most promising players in his teenaged years. A Toa Samoa international he was a fixture in the club’s NYC team before earning his NRL debut as Vodafone Warrior #216 against Melbourne in 2017. The son of netball legend Temepara Bailey, he switched to Canberra, later returned home and, still only 22, is now with the Gold Coast Titans.

At prop are Frank Watene (#57) and Anthony Seuseu (#94). After his NRL debut season in 1998, the New Zealand Maori representative moved to England where he carved out a long career with several clubs including Wakefield and Halifax. Seuseu had the thrill of playing his only NRL match alongside his older brother Jerry against Brisbane in 2001, had a stint in England and then returned home to get involved in local football and pursue his business career.

Hooker Herewini Rangi (#117), a Taniwharau junior, debuted in one of the most extraordinary games in the club’s history, a 29-30 loss to Canberra in 2004. Rangi was named the 2004 Clubman of the Year and later moved to play in Queensland, suffering a serious spinal injury when he collided with a goalpost in 2008. He recovered and has since been involved in local rugby league in Waikato and Gisborne as well as working in community sport.

The second rowers Shaun Lane (#211) and Sio Siua Taukeiaho (#184) have both established themselves in the NRL. Lane joined the Vodafone Warriors in 2016 after being released by Canterbury-Bankstown, debuting against St George Illawarra. He was back in Sydney with Manly in 2017 and 2018 before signing with Parramatta last year. After his one NRL outing with the Vodafone Warriors against the Dragons in 2013, Taukeiaho signed with the Roosters after asking for a release. He has gone on to savour back-to-back grand final wins and captain Tonga.

The loose forward for the one-gamers is Mataupu (Upu) Poching (#161) who was involved in the club’s system for a number of seasons in the reserve grade side. He was called in for his NRL debut in a 24-12 win over North Queensland in 2010.

A three-man bench comprises former All Black halfback Mark Robinson (#104) and props Danny Sullivan (#111) and Kane Ferris (#120).

Robinson’s sole appearance was against the Bulldogs in Wellington in 2003 before he returned to rugby union.

Australian Sullivan, who had joined the Vodafone Warriors after five NRL outings for Parramatta, made what was an ill-fated debut against Penrith in 2004. Hampered by a chronic knee injury, Sullivan had to be helped off the field early in what would be his last match before he retired.

Christchurch-born and raised Linwood junior Ferris was debutant alongside fellow one-gamer Paul Atkins in the 2004 match against the Roosters. The New Zealand A representative returned home to play for Linwood and later the Celebration Lions in the local competition as well as the Canterbury Bulls in the Bartercard Cup.

By way of comparison, North Queensland, the only other surviving club from 1995, has so far had 286 players with 19 of them appearing in one game.

ONE-GAME WARRIORS 1995-2020

1 Paul ATKINS       (Vodafone Warrior #119)
2 Siuatonga LIKILIKI (Vodafone Warrior #155)
3 Doc MURRAY (Vodafone Warrior #34)
4 Meti Noovao (Vodafone Warrior #46)
5 Taane MILNE (Vodafone Warrior #239)
6 Daniel O’REGAN (Vodafone Warrior #150)
7 Erin Clark (Vodafone Warrior #216)
8 Frank WATENE (Vodafone Warrior #57)
9 Herewini RANGI (Vodafone Warrior #117)
10 Anthony SEUSEU (Vodafone Warrior #94)
11 Shaun LANE (Vodafone Warrior #211)
12 Sio Siua TAUKEIAHO (Vodafone Warrior #184)
13 Mataupu POCHING (Vodafone Warrior #161)
  Interchange:  
14 Mark ROBINSON (Vodafone Warrior #104)
15 Danny SULLIVAN             (Vodafone Warrior #111)
16 Kane FERRIS (Vodafone Warrior #120)