Captain Mannering back for Luck's last
Tuesday 28 August 2012 1:18 PM
Simon Mannering’s 26th birthday today coincided with his return in a rearranged Vodafone Warriors line-up for the club’s final match of the season against Canberra at Mount Smart Stadium on Sunday (4.00pm kick-off NZ time; game day sponsor: Vodafone).
After missing the last five games with an ankle injury, Mannering comes back to be reunited with long-time team-mate Micheal Luck for the veteran’s 150th and last appearance for the Vodafone Warriors before retiring after 12 seasons and a total of 226 games in the competition.
While naming Mannering in the second row, interim Vodafone Warriors coach Tony Iro has also made several other changes to his combination after last Saturday night’s disappointing 6-38 loss to St George Illawarra in Wollongong.
Feleti Mateo, who will make his 52nd consecutive appearance for the club, comes out of the second row to start at standoff while Pita Godinet, used off the bench last week, links up with Mateo at halfback. Centre Konrad Hurrell is back in the starting line-up for his 17th game in his rookie season and Ben Matulino, a late inclusion on the bench against the Dragons, starts in the front row with Jacob Lillyman.
Standoff James Maloney and utility Lewis Brown, who have both appeared in every game so far this year, are vying for interchange berths with five other players while halfback Shaun Johnson has been omitted. Johnson left the field with an eye injury last Saturday night but Iro said he had recovered and was fit to be considered.
“This is a case of us picking the side we think will give us the best chance of winning against the Raiders,” said Iro.
“Pita has been in good form since coming back into the side and deserves the opportunity and we wanted to use Feleti at six.
“We had to make some changes. We have to do something about trying to get a much improved performance from the team in front of our members. It’s also a special day with Lucky playing his last game before he retires.”
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Iro said Johnson may turn out for the Auckland Vulcans in their final New South Wales Cup match against Cronulla at Mount Smart Stadium No 2 on Saturday (1.00pm kick-off).
A decision on the final make-up of the Vodafone Warriors’ bench wouldn’t be confirmed until just before kick-off on Sunday.
Hurrell goes into the match sharing the lead with Johnson as the club’s top try scorer with 12 tries while winger Manu Vatuvei has 10.
Six players are in line to go through the season having appeared in every match – winger Bill Tupou, centre Ben Henry and Mateo from the starting line-up and Russell Packer, Brown and Maloney who are on the extended bench.
Departing players Luck, Maloney, Brown, Ukuma Ta’ai, Omar Slaimankhel and Ivan Penehe will all be acknowledged after the match on the club’s traditional old boys’ day.
A group of 20 ex-Vodafone Warriors will gather to welcome the latest additions to the club’s ranks of former players.
In Mannering’s absence the Vodafone Warriors have had five straight losses to Manly, Cronulla, North Queensland, North Queensland, Penrith and St George Illawarra extending their run of defeats to a record-equalling seven (previously achieved in 1997, 2000 and 2004-2005).
VODAFONE WARRIORS v CANBERRA RAIDERS
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
4.00pm, Sunday, September 02
1 CARLOS TUIMAVAVE
2 BILL TUPOU
3 BEN HENRY
4 KONRAD HURRELL
5 MANU VATUVEI
6 FELETI MATEO
7 PITA GODINET
8 JACOB LILLYMAN
9 ALEHANA MARA
10 BEN MATULINO
11 ELIJAH TAYLOR
12 SIMON MANNERING (c)
13 MICHEAL LUCK
14 RUSSELL PACKER
15 SIONE LOUSI
16 UKUMA TA’AI
17 LEWIS BROWN
18 JAMES MALONEY
20 SAM LOUSI
23 SEBASTINE IKAHIHIFO
HEAD COACH: TONY IRO