Float Like a Butterfly, Sting Like The Beast

You’d never hear Manu Vatuvei talk like this:

But its becoming harder and harder for the Manu critics to argue against his greatness. Is he the greatest Warrior of all-time? I’ve reached the point where I’m willing to argue that he is. Stats alone make a very strong case, 138 tries from 199 games, but for me they don’t come close to telling the whole story. The impact Big Manu has both on and off the field is hard to quantify with words. The first to put his hand up to bring the ball out of his end in the toughest of situations, the way the young players look up to him and the work he does in the local community — these are the things that make him truly great.

There’s never been another Warriors player who has made the impact at the club that Manu has. He’s the first person I think of when the Warriors come to mind, the face of the franchise, the ambassador representing the club to the world. Manu embodies everything people associate with the club: Big, powerful, exciting . . . and error-prone. We ride The Beast rollercoaster the same way we ride the Warriors rollercoaster, with heavy doses of both excitement and terror. We know that lows come with the highs — at any time during the journey it can feel like your stomach drops to your toes. But aren’t the highs incredible!

Is there a better sight in rugby league than Manu in space?

So can the Warriors bounce back from the disappointment of last week to give Manu the celebration he deserves?

I’d love to say ‘yes’ with confidence, but the Warriors just simply can’t hold on to the ball at the moment. If that continues, they won’t win another game all year. The bet/hope/prayer is that they’ve got to click soon and that the dropsies can’t last forever.

On recent form, the Warriors should have the edge in the forwards, and we should expect/hope/pray for a strong defensive effort as the side lifts for Manu. If Captain Mannering’s 200th was anything to go by, Manu is in for a superb day — and won’t the Warriors faithful erupt if he crosses the line.

Coach Cappy has largely given his troops the opportunity to redeem themselves, naming an unchanged starting line-up, and bringing the Hungry, Hungry Hippo back onto the bench after his late scratching last week.

It won’t be easy though. Fresh off the best 10 minutes of Pat Richards’ career, the Tigers will arrive at Our Rightful Home full of confidence.

Their only losses this year were to last year’s grand finalists, the Dogs and the Rabbits, and their young backline, boasting the likes of Luke Brooks, Tim Simona and James Tedesco, threatens to be one of the most exciting in the NRL in the years to come. Reducing the impact of Robbie Farah will be key, as always, and the commentary team will delight every time Marty Ta-Pow crashes it up.

If you’re in Auckland, get down to Our Rightful Home early — the U20s starts at 3:15, followed by the NSW Cup before the GOAT’s 200th.

NRL Warrior prediction: They’ve been making me look silly the last couple of weeks, but, at home, I’ve got to stick with the men from Mt Smart. If they can’t play well for The Beast, their season will be in serious trouble, and surely it’s too early for that kind of chat? Warriors by 10.

What to watch for: It goes with out saying to suggest the pre-game highlights of The Beast, but also look for the Warriors to spring a late line-up change. With the NRL team lists coming out less than 24 hours after the Melbourne game, you always have to take these line-ups with a grain of salt. A number of the Warriors casualty ward are close to returns and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Cappy add a little more experience to the side.

Highlights from the last meeting:

Teams

WARRIORS

  1. Tui Lolohea
  2. Jonathan Wright
  3. Konrad Hurrell
  4. Solomone Kata
  5. Manu Vatuvei
  6. Chad Townsend
  7. Shaun Johnson
  8. Jacob Lillyman
  9. Thomas Leuluai
  10. Ben Matulino
  11. Bodene Thompson
  12. Ryan Hoffman
  13. Simon Mannering

Interchange

  1. Nathan Friend
  2. Sebastine Ikahihifo
  3. Sam Lisone
  4. Albert Vete
  5. Dominique Peyroux

TIGERS

  1. James Tedesco
  2. Kevin Naiqama
  3. Tim Simona
  4. Chris Lawrence
  5. Pat Richards
  6. Mitchell Moses
  7. Luke Brooks
  8. Aaron Woods
  9. Robbie Farah
  10. Keith Galloway
  11. Curtis Sironen
  12. Kyle Lovett
  13. Martin Taupau

Interchange

  1. Dean Halatau
  2. Ava Seumanufagai
  3. Jack Buchanan
  4. Sauaso Sue
  5. Asipeli Fine
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