TWL TOP 10: WARRIORS IRONMEN

It’s no mean feat for a player to go through a gruelling NRL campaign without missing a game – as emphasised by the fact no Warriors players have played all 21 games so far this season.

With Warriors icon Simon Mannering – who makes two appearances on this list – announcing that the 2018 season will be his last, we thought it was an appropriate time to recognise the club’s greatest ‘ironmen’: the players who strung together the most consecutive games without a rest or succumbing to injury.

TWL TOP 10 – MOST CONSECUTIVE GAMES BY A WARRIORS PLAYER

10. Nathan Fien – 62 games (2007-09)

Former Cowboys utility Fien joined the Warriors in 2005 and played 21 games or more in his first four seasons at the club. After an injury-interrupted finish to ’06, the Queensland Origin rep played his last 62 games for the club in succession – despite frequently bouncing around the team sheet at hooker, five-eighth, halfback and the bench. Fien, who played 21 Tests for New Zealand, made a mid-season switch to St George Illawarra in 2009 and won a grand final with the Dragons a year later, eventually retiring with 276 NRL games to his credit.

9. Sam Rapira – 66 games (2006-09)

Hamilton product Rapira made his NRL debut midway through 2006 at the tender age of 19, becoming a regular interchange fixture towards the end of the season. The bruising front-rower played every game of the Warriors’ 2007-08 campaigns – including five finals matches – before sitting out a clash with the Dragons in 2009, the only game he missed that season. A 13-Test Kiwi (2007-11), Rapira played 173 games for the Warriors – equal-sixth on the club’s all-time appearances register by the time he headed to Super League club Huddersfield at the end of 2015.

8. Logan Swann – 67 games (1997-2000)

A New Zealand Test debutant in 1996, Logan Swann belatedly made his first-grade debut for the Auckland Warriors in the opening round of the ’97 Super League season. The rangy back-rower played the last nine games of that campaign and was a mainstay during the troubled 1998-99 seasons, playing all 24 games in both. Swann’s run ended at 67 games when he missed the Warriors’ Round 11 assignment in 2000. Only Stacey Jones had played more than Swann’s 195 games when his second stint at the club came to an end in 2008.

7. Nathan Friend – 69 games (2013-15)

Gold Coast Titans foundation hooker Friend was a popular and consistent servant for the Warriors from 2012-15. After missing seven games during his first year in Auckland and the opening three rounds of the following season, Friend played 69 straight games for the Warriors until his return to the Titans at the end of 2015. The head-geared No.9’s unforgettable upside-down, through-the-legs pass to set up a try against the Storm in 2015 took out the Dally M Headline Moment of the Year award.

6. Micheal Luck – 70 games (2006-08)

An honest toiler during five seasons with the Cowboys, Luck developed into a fringe Queensland Origin contender during a 150-game tenure with the Warriors. The industrious back-rower did not miss a game in his first two years at the club, finally having a fortnight off late in the 2008 regular season. Luck, an occasional fill-in Warriors skipper, played at least 20 games a season from 2006-11, but his farewell campaign in 2012 consisted of just six outings thanks to a shocking run of injuries.

5. Simon Manering – 73 games (2013-16)

The ultimate example of Warriors resilience, Mannering has played at least 17 games every season since his late-2005 introduction to the NRL. The then-captain started another ironman streak early in 2013, playing every game in the 2014-15 seasons before missing just two games with a badly gashed mouth suffered in the 2016 Anzac Day defeat to the Storm. Despite missing the first month of the 2018 premiership through injury, Mannering is set to become the first Warriors player to bring up 300 first-grade appearances in the final round against the Raiders.

4. Ben Matulino – 73 games (2010-12)

Wellington-born Matulino is one of just four players to break the 200-game barrier for the Warriors and his durability is highlighted by a run of playing 20-plus games every season from 2010-16. The hard-hitting forward missed the last round of 2009 but played every game in 2010-11 – including the run to the grand final in the latter – and featured in the first 20 games of 2012 on his way to the Warriors’ Player of the Year award.

3. Feleti Mateo – 79 games (2011-14)

Ball-playing back-rower Mateo was a vital component of the Warriors’ charge to the 2011 grand final in his first season at the club, playing all 28 games that season. His form was less reliable thereafter but he was a mainstay in the Warriors pack, featuring in every game of the disappointing 2012-13 campaign before his run was halted four rounds into 2014. Adding the 31 straight games he played for Parramatta prior to his shift to Auckland, Mateo racked up a remarkable 110 consecutive first-grade appearances from 2009-14. The enigmatic forward linked with Manly in 2015 and passed the 200-game barrier.

2. Simon Mannering – 92 games (2006-09)

An 18-year-old debutant for the Warriors in 2005, Mannering was on ice for the first seven rounds of ’06 but swiftly became a permanent fixture at centre or in the back-row. The Nelson product played the last 17 games of that campaign and featured in every game in 2007-08, before finally being forced out in the penultimate round of 2009. Mannering overtook Stacey Jones’ club record for most appearances in 2017. If the Warriors make it to week two of the finals and the retiring club legend plays every game, he will have made at least 22 appearances in each of his last six NRL campaigns.

1. Stacey Jones – 100 games (1995-99)

‘The Little General’s’ match-winning genius often overshadowed some of his other standout qualities, such as his toughness and durability. Jones made a tryscoring debut off the bench against Parramatta early in the Auckland Warriors’ 1995 foundation season and was called up to the starting line-up three weeks later – the first of 100 consecutive run-on appearances in first grade. The 19-year-old played the last 13 games of that ’95 season and every match of the embattled club’s 1996-99 campaigns. Ironically, it was a broken arm suffered in a post-season Test against Tonga in 1999 that ceased his run of club games, missing the first seven rounds of 2000. The champion halfback subsequently played 160 of a possible 167 games for the Warriors, hanging up the boots for the second time at the end of 2009 after extending his club record to 261 games.

 

*The premiership record for most consecutive first-grade appearances belongs to front-rower Luke Douglas, who played an extraordinary 215 straight games for Cronulla (146) and Gold Coast (69) from 2006-14. Goalkicking half Jason Taylor (194 games) and Manly hooker Matt Ballin (182) are next on the list. 

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