Milestones and another debutant on Sunday
Tuesday 31 July 2012 1:49 PM
Vodafone Warriors stand-in captain Manu Vatuvei is eyeing history, Nathan Friend will make his 150th career appearance and Carlos Tuimavave his first in Sunday’s 22nd-round NRL clash against Cronulla at Mount Smart Stadium (2.00pm kick-off local time).
With regular skipper Simon Mannering not yet fully recovered from an ankle injury, Vatuvei (26) will again lead the Vodafone Warriors in his 148th appearance, one which could create an NRL first.
After scoring his 99th try last weekend, the giant winger will have a chance in front of Vodafone Warriors members and fans on Sunday to become the first player to score 100 NRL tries for the club.
Two other players – the oldest in the squad and the youngest – will both achieve key milestones.
Hooker Friend (31) will reach the 150-game mark in his 15th appearance for his new club after 135 games previously for Brisbane, Melbourne and Gold Coast.
At the other end of the ledger Tuimavave (20), who’s in his last year playing NYC football for the Vodafone Junior Warriors, will become the club’s 177th first-grade player after being named on the bench for the Cronulla encounter.
Tuimavave will be the third member of the well-known rugby league family to play for the Vodafone Warriors following his uncle Tony and cousin Evarn.
Carlos Tuimavave travelled to Perth as cover for the match against Manly last weekend and will join a bench which also includes the returning Steve Rapira, who has recovered from a hamstring injury, as well as regulars Sione Lousi and Jacob Lillyman plus likely 18th man Ukuma Ta’ai.
“With Carlos it’s great to see another product of our development system coming through to the NRL,” said Vodafone Warriors head coach Brian McClennan.
“He’s a player with lots of ability and he’ll give us cover in the halves, the centres at fullback and maybe even loose forward if needed.
“It’d be brilliant if Manu can score his 100th try in front of our members and fans at Mount Smart Stadium this Sunday. It’ll be a fantastic achievement for him to become our first player to score 100 tries in the NRL.
“And it’s great to see Nathan getting to 150 games and do it at home.”
McClennan said neither Mannering nor centre Konrad Hurrell would be ready to play this week, rating them both week-by-week propositions. With Hurrell out, Ben Henry returns to the centres where Lewis Brown will again line up. It results in Elijah Taylor moving into the second row and 2010-2011 NYC premiership winner Sebastine Ikahihifo starting at loose forward after making his debut from the bench last week.
For the sixth time in recent weeks the Vodafone Warriors will field a side comprising 11 NYC graduates with Tuimavave and Rapira coming in for Hurrell and interchange forward Sam Lousi.
The Vodafone Warriors sit 12th on the table but remain only two points out of the top eight (Gold Coast is eighth on 22 points). Of the six teams on 22 or 20 points the Vodafone Warriors are the only side with a plus points for and against differential (+23).
Cronulla, which has had a draw and three losses in its last four starts, has slipped to seventh on 25 points with a minus 12 points for and against differential.
Meanwhile, veteran loose forward Micheal Luck will return to the playing field this weekend - for the Auckland Vulcans in the New South Wales Cup rather than going back directly into the NRL.
After coming back for two matches, Luck was sidelined again with more issues with his troublesome shoulder. He will trial it playing for the Vulcans against Wentworthville on Mount Smart Stadium No 2 on Saturday (1.00pm kick-off local time)
VODAFONE WARRIORS v CRONULLA SHARKS
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
2.00pm, Sunday, August 5
1 KEVIN LOCKE
2 BILL TUPOU
3 BEN HENRY
4 LEWIS BROWN
5 MANU VATUVEI (c)
6 JAMES MALONEY
7 SHAUN JOHNSON
8 RUSSELL PACKER
9 NATHAN FRIEND
10 BEN MATULINO
11 FELETI MATEO
12 ELIJAH TAYLOR
13 SEBASTINE IKAHIHIFO
14 CARLOS TUIMAVAVE
15 SIONE LOUSI
16 JACOB LILLYMAN
17 STEVE RAPIRA
20 UKUMA TA’AI
HEAD COACH: BRIAN McCLENNAN