Shaun Johnson is a confirmed starter to become just the fifth player to make 200 appearances for the One New Zealand Warriors in tomorrow night’s multiple milestone clash against Parramatta at CommBank Stadium in Sydney (5.30pm kick-off local time; 7.30pm NZT).
There was uncertainty this week whether Johnson would make the trip with wife Kayla expecting to give birth to the couple’s second child soon.
But today the 32-year-old boarded the Sydney-bound flight with his teammates for the club’s vital 19th-round NRL clash against the Eels.
As well as Johnson being confirmed, centre Brayden Wiliame has been retained as 18th man and halfback Ronald Volkman as 19th while the three players omitted at the 24-hour mark were Kalani Going, Zyon Maiu’u and Taine Tuaupiki.
Tomorrow night the spotlight will be on Johnson and fellow senior players Dylan Walker, Addin Fonua-Blake and Wayde Egan as they extraordinarily celebrate landmark achievements on the same day.
Johnson will join legends Simon Mannering (301), Stacey Jones (261), Manu Vatuvei (226) and Ben Matulino (212) as the only players to make 200 NRL appearances for the One New Zealand Warriors.
Match: Eels v Warriors
Round 19 -
Fullback for Eels is number 1 Sean RussellFullback for Warriors is number 1 Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad
Winger for Eels is number 2 Maika SivoWinger for Warriors is number 2 Dallin Watene-Zelezniak
Centre for Eels is number 3 Will PenisiniCentre for Warriors is number 3 Rocco Berry
Centre for Eels is number 4 Bailey SimonssonCentre for Warriors is number 4 Adam Pompey
Winger for Eels is number 5 Isaac LumelumeWinger for Warriors is number 5 Marcelo Montoya
Five-Eighth for Eels is number 6 Ryan MattersonFive-Eighth for Warriors is number 6 Luke Metcalf
Halfback for Eels is number 7 Daejarn AsiHalfback for Warriors is number 7 Shaun Johnson
Prop for Eels is number 8 Ofahiki OgdenProp for Warriors is number 8 Addin Fonua-Blake
Hooker for Eels is number 9 Brendan HandsHooker for Warriors is number 9 Wayde Egan
Prop for Eels is number 10 Junior PauloProp for Warriors is number 10 Bunty Afoa
2nd Row for Eels is number 11 Bryce Cartwright2nd Row for Warriors is number 11 Jackson Ford
2nd Row for Eels is number 12 Andrew Davey2nd Row for Warriors is number 12 Mitchell Barnett
Lock for Eels is number 13 J'maine HopgoodLock for Warriors is number 13 Tohu Harris
Interchange for Eels is number 14 Luca MorettiInterchange for Warriors is number 14 Dylan Walker
Interchange for Eels is number 15 Joe OfahengaueInterchange for Warriors is number 15 Bayley Sironen
Interchange for Eels is number 16 Shaun LaneInterchange for Warriors is number 16 Tom Ale
Interchange for Eels is number 17 Makahesi MakatoaInterchange for Warriors is number 17 Freddy Lussick
Replacement for Eels is number 21 Matt DooreyReplacement for Warriors is number 18 Brayden Wiliame
- Referee: Adam Gee
- Touch Judge: Drew Oultram
- Touch Judge: Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski
- Senior Review Official: Kasey Badger
Johnson’s 200-game achievement has taken longer than the others, spread over 13 seasons due to his three years with Cronulla Sutherland from 2019-2021.
After starting with South Sydney in 2013 and continuing with Manly Warringah, first-year Warrior Walker (28) plays his 200th career game tomorrow.
Fonua-Blake (27) began his NRL career with the Sea Eagles in 2016 and will play his 53rd match for the Warriors to reach the 150-game milestone.
The 26-year-old Egan’s 71st outing for the One New Zealand Warriors will be his 100th overall after starting out with Penrith in 2018.
The quartet were named in a line-up unchanged from the one used in last Friday night’s disappointing 6-28 loss to South Sydney at a sold-out Go Media Stadium.
Missing from the side again are suspended back rowers Marata Niukore and Josh Curran while standoff Te Maire Martin and middle forward Jazz Tevaga remain on the injured list.
The combination features six players who have appeared in all 16 matches this season in Johnson, Fonua-Blake, Marcelo Montoya, Adam Pompey, Bunty Afoa and Tom Ale.
The One New Zealand Warriors’ setback against the Rabbitohs saw them slip to eighth spot on a congested ladder, level on 22 points with the Eels (sixth) as well as South Sydney (seventh).
Despite having 28 points scored against them last week, the One New Zealand Warriors still rank third for the fewest points conceded so far (304) behind Penrith and Brisbane.
They take a 5-3 away record into the contest with Parramatta but they have lost their only two previous meetings at CommBank Stadium in 2019 and 2022.
The Eels have been one of the Warriors’ least frequent opponents in recent years with this being the sixth straight season they have played each other just once.
Parramatta has won the last four contests between the two sides with the Warriors’ last success a 24-14 win at ANZ Stadium (now Accor Stadium) in 2018.