Hooker Ian Henderson will be given every chance to line up for the New Zealand Warriors in their crucial 24th-round NRL clash against Manly at Brookvale Oval on Saturday night.
Henderson left the field with an ankle injury late in the Vodafone Warriors' 22-10 victory over Newcastle at Mount Smart Stadium on Sunday but was today named in an unchanged squad for the Manly match.
"He's probably a doubtful starter at this stage but we haven't ruled him out of being able to take his place in the side," said Vodafone Warriors head coach Ivan Cleary.
In recent weeks Henderson has been starting at hooker with 2010 Kiwi international Aaron Heremaia being injected at dummy half from the interchange bench.
The Vodafone Warriors will go into the 24th round holding sixth spot on the points table on 28 points, two ahead of the seventh-placed Sea Eagles, who lost 10-32 to competition leader St George Illawarra last night to remain on 26 points with eighth-placed Brisbane. Two points further back are South Sydney, Parramatta and Canberra.
"That result will make them really desperate against us," said Cleary.
"They've been one of the NRL's most consistent sides for a few years now and we know how hard we'll have to work to match them in all areas.
"We got the result we wanted against Newcastle but we will need to be a lot better this week."
Heading into the third-to-last regular season match, Vodafone Warriors winger Manu Vatuvei is now only two tries short of equalling Stacey Jones' all-time club try-scoring record of 77 tries during his 261-game NRL career.
Vatuvei's hat-trick against the Knights was his second of the season (he had a treble against Cronulla in the second round), lifting his tally to 17 in 15 games this season and 75 in 109 career games.
He's now third on the NRL's 2010 try-scoring chart behind Newcastle's Akuila Uate (20 in 21 games) and Brisbane's Israel Folau (19 in 17 games).
Vatuvei was today named the players' player of the day for the third time in the club's last five games. Apart from his hat-trick, he made a memorable try-saving tackle on his opposite Uate, carried the ball 14 times for 121 metres, made two line breaks and seven tackle breaks.
Saturday's match will be prop Sam Rapira's 99th for the Vodafone Warriors, leaving him poised to bring up his century in the last home game of the season against Brisbane on August 27. He's set to become the 19th player to appear in 100 NRL games for the club.
Meanwhile, the Vodafone Junior Warriors will continue their finals bid in the NYC against Manly. Their late comeback victory over the Knights lifted them to third on 31 points, only two behind competition leader North Queensland.
With the NRL and NYC sides both winning last weekend, the Vodafone Warriors now lead the overall club championship which combines results in both competitions. They're on 59 points with the Sydney Roosters but lead on overall points differential.
1 Lance Hohaia
2 Bill Tupou
3 Brent Tate
4 Joel Moon
5 Manu Vatuvei
6 James Maloney
7 Brett Seymour
8 Ben Matulino
9 Ian Henderson
10 Russell Packer
11 Simon Mannering (C)
12 Lewis Brown
13 Micheal Luck
14 Aaron Heremaia
15 Jacob Lillyman
16 Sam Rapira
17 Ukuma Ta'ai
- NZHERALD STAFF