Mannering out, Vatuvei to lead side
Tuesday 24 July 2012 1:33 PM
Captain Simon Mannering will miss his first NRL match in more than two years after being ruled out of the Vodafone Warriors’ trip to Perth for their 21st-round clash against Manly at Patersons Stadium on Saturday (5.30pm kick-off local time).
Mannering injured his right ankle late in last Saturday night’s 19-24 loss to Newcastle at Mount Smart Stadium.
While the 164-game veteran is out of contention this week medical staff are optimistic he’ll return for the 22nd-round encounter with Cronulla at Mount Smart Stadium for this game.
His absence has resulted in a career first for winger Manu Vatuvei who has been named to lead the side in what will be his 147th appearance as he comes back after missing the Newcastle game with a hamstring injury.
“We’re satisfied Simon isn’t seriously injured but he’ll be out this week,” said Vodafone Warriors head coach Brian McClennan.
“It’s a big loss for us obviously because Simon does so much work for us and we’re so used to having him out there every week and nearly always for the full 80 minutes.
“It’s exciting, though, to be able to give big Manu the honour of captaining our club for the first time. He’s a great man is Manu and he’s really humbled to be given the job. We know he’ll lead the way and the boys will be there giving him their full support.”
Mannering will miss his first NRL match since the 10th-round clash against North Queensland in May, 2010. A week later he began a run of 62 consecutive appearances for the club.
With Mannering out, McClennan has shuffled his back row and centres combinations with Lewis Brown moved off the bench to start at left centre and Ben Henry named in the second row after being used as a centre in all 18 matches so far this season.
Giant forward Sam Lousi, rushed in at the last moment last weekend to make his NRL debut as Vodafone Warrior No 175, will make his second appearance on Saturday. A day after his 21st birthday, he and older brother Sione became only the fourth set of brothers to team up in an NRL match for the Vodafone Warriors (the first since Vinnie and Louis Anderson in 2004).
Sam Lousi played alongside his brother for the last eight minutes, getting heavily involved making 40 metres from five runs and also pulling off six tackles without a miss.
Lousi, who came in after Steve Rapira’s injury in the warm-up, will be joined by another debutant in back rower Sebastine Ikahihifo, who’ll become No 176. They were both in the Vodafone Junior Warriors’ 2010-2011 NYC premiership-winning sides and also represented the Junior Kiwis both years.
The other bench players will again be Sione Lousi, who’ll be playing his 19th consecutive game this season, and the experienced Jacob Lillyman. Pita Godinet has been named 18th man.
Apart from Lousi, Henry and Brown, other players extending their sequence of appearing in every match so far this campaign are winger Bill Tupou, standoff James Maloney, loose forward Elijah Taylor, second rower Feleti Mateo and props Russell Packer and Ben Matulino.
Several players are nearing milestones. Vatuvei needs two more tries to become the first player to score 100 NRL tries for the Vodafone Warriors and he’s four games short of his 150th career game; hooker Nathan Friend is two games short of his 150th; Packer needs five more appearances for his 100th; and Tupou (47) and Mateo (46) are closing in on their 50th game for the club.
VODAFONE WARRIORS v MANLY SEA EAGLES
Patersons Stadium, Perth
5.30pm, Saturday, July 28
Referees: Jared Maxwell and Alan Shortall
1 KEVIN LOCKE
2 BILL TUPOU
3 LEWIS BROWN
4 KONRAD HURRELL
5 MANU VATUVEI (c)
6 JAMES MALONEY
7 SHAUN JOHNSON
8 RUSSELL PACKER
9 NATHAN FRIEND
10 BEN MATULINO
11 FELETI MATEO
12 BEN HENRY
13 ELIJAH TAYLOR
14 SAM LOUSI
15 SIONE LOUSI
16 JACOB LILLYMAN
17 SEBASTINE IKAHIHIFO
18 PITA GODINET
HEAD COACH: BRIAN McCLENNAN