Historic feat totally overshadowed
Sunday 12 August 2012 8:48 PM
It was a shame one of the most significant feats in the Vodafone Warriors’ history – Manu Vatuvei’s 100th NRL try – should coincide with Saturday night’s humiliating loss to North Queensland in Townsville.
In any other circumstances the champion winger’s achievement in becoming the first Vodafone Warrior to reach the 100-try mark would have been celebrated. Such history was deserving of a grand occasion rather than a night marked by one of the club’s most disappointing performances.
But with fulltime seconds away and the Cowboys leading 52-6, there was one last chance for the Vodafone Warriors to add to the solitary try they’d scored through replacement fullback Carlos Tuiimavave.
On a night when other opportunities had been passed up this one wasn’t. Quick hands found The Beast wide out on the left edge and he did the rest to bring up his century. He was aware of the significance of the try and so were his team-mates but understandably it mattered very little on a night like this.
While the pain of the 12-52 defeat won’t be forgotten, that instant in the final minute of the match at Dairy Farmers Stadium will live on. It is one of the greatest individual achievements since the club came into existence in 1995; it also underlines the value the 26-year-old Vatuvei has been to the club since his debut in 2004.
His try against the Cowboys was his 10th in 17 appearances this season leaving him just two behind centre Konrad Hurrell and still with a chance of being the club’s leading try-scorer for the sixth straight season.
After being second in 2005 and 2006, he was joint top try-scorer in 2007 but outright top scorer the next four seasons.
Making his debut in 2004 – he went try-less in five games – he soon became the club’s No 1 strike weapon, going on to average a try in every 1.49 games he has played, one of the best try-scoring rates among long-serving players.
His try-scoring frequency is vastly superior since the start of the 2008 season. After scoring 29 tries in his first 58 games from 2004-2007, he has gone on to snare 71 tries in his last 91 games.
Vatuvei moved past former try-scoring record holder Stacey Jones in 2010; Jones scored 77 tries in 261 matches. With 400 points all from tries, Vatuvei ranks behind only Jones (674), James Maloney (539) and Ivan Cleary (439) for most points scored for the Vodafone Warriors.
A week after scoring his 100th try, Vatuvei will reach another milestone in Sunday’s encounter with Penrith when he makes his 150th NRL appearance. He’ll be the seventh to do so after Stacey Jones (261), Logan Swann (195), Lance Hohaia (185), Awen Guttenbeil (170), Simon Mannering (164) and Wairangi Koopu (159).