New Zealand Warriors: Top ten players

BigJ Roar Guru

By BigJ, BigJ is a Roar Guru

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    Shaun Johnson is one of the game's elite players. (AAP Image/David Rowland)

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    The addition of the Warriors to the then ARL in 1995 is still one of the best things that the game as ever done.

    Over the course of their year history, the New Zealand Warriors have made two grand finals (2002, 2011) and had some great players.

    Here is my top ten for the New Zealand Warriors.

    10. Sean Hoppe
    Hoppe was part of the Warriors inaugural side in 1995 and became a regular first team player. He would play 88 games for the club between the 1995 to 1999 seasons.

    He was voted the competition’s best winger in 1995 and his 19 tries in the 1995 season remained a club record until 2003 (when it was surpassed by Francis Meli).

    He is currently eighth on the club’s all-time try scoring list with 44. He would play 35 Tests for New Zealand.

    9. Francis Meli
    Coming into the club in the 1998 season Meli would play 110 games for the club scoring 60 tries. In 2003 he would break the all time record for most tries in a season with 23, scoring five of those tries against the Canterbury Bulldogs in a single finals match.

    The record still stands to this day. As a result of his great 2003 season he was named the player of the year for 2003. He would represent Samoa in nine Tests and play 14 Tests for New Zealand.

    8. Lance Hohaia
    Debuting for the Warriors in 2002 he would go on to play 185 games for the club and be the only man to feature in both the club’s grand final appearances (2002, 2011). He is fifth on the all time tries lists with 57. He would represent New Zealand in 28 Tests.

    7. Ben Matulino
    A one man club for the Warriors Matulino joined the club in 2008 and has been loyal ever since, he has won the player of the year award twice for the 2012 and 2015 seasons. A powerhouse for the club upfront he has played 196 games for the club and scored 16 tries. He was apart of the 2011 grand final and has played 23 Tests for New Zealand.

    6. Ivan Cleary
    Cleary would be not just a great player for the club but would return as a coach. He played in the 2002 grand final for the club and coached the 2011 side to their grand final appearance.

    He played 57 games for the club and coached 137. He is currently number four with 437 for most points at the club.

    Panthers coach Ivan Cleary. (AAP Image/Action Photographics, Wayne Drought)

    5. James Maloney
    A point-scoring machine for the club, Maloney debuted for the club in 2010. He would play 77 games and score 547 points for the club, currently the fourth highest in the club’s history.

    He was a huge part of their 2011 grand final run. He had only a short career at the Warriors but still one of the best.

    4. Manu Vatuvei
    An entertaining player on the wing, Vatauvei has had 227 (the third highest in the club history) games for the club since debuting in 2004. He has the club record for tries with currently 152 (more than double of his nearest competitor Stacey Jones at 77) and was the player of the year in 2010.

    He was a part of the 2011 grand final where he scored a try and he represented his country 29 times.

    3. Simon Mannering
    Mannering came to the team in 2005 as a forward utility for the club. He is about to break Stacey Jones’ all time game record at 261. He has scored 58 tries for the club. A hard man up front he has been named player of the year for the club a record five times (2008, 2011, 2014, 2014, 2016).

    In 2011 he captained the club into the grand final. In 2013 he replaced Benji Marshall as the New Zealand captain and he had 41 appearances for his country.

    2. Shaun Johnson
    Johnson would debut for the club in 2011 and be a part of the team grand final side. Over his 127 games for the club he has broken Stacey Jones’ all time points record, scored 56 tries and in 2013 scored an incredible 177 points – scoring 26 in one game versus Canberra alone. He is with no doubt the successor of the halfback leader that Stacey Jones was before him.

    1. Stacey Jones
    No doubt in my mind that Jones is number one and he was and important part of the club. As an original to the club Jones would go on to play 261 games, still a record, be awarded player of the year in 1997, be leading influence of their minor premiership-winning 2002 season and be the only man to score a try for the club in the 2002 grand final.

    Do you agree with my list? Who is your favourite Warriors player? If there are any Kiwi brothers and sisters out there I would love to hear your opinion. Next up the Wests Tigers.

    If you could choose from any and every NRL player in the competition, who would you pick in your rugby league dream team? Let us know with our team picker right here, and be sure to share it with all your league-loving mates.

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    The Crowd Says (22)

    • March 17th 2017 @ 5:08am
      The Spectator said | March 17th 2017 @ 5:08am | ! Report

      Nice work J, Thats one talented list, Vatuvai should get a mention, the bustling ball dropping scariest winger ever! Haha

    • Roar Guru

      March 17th 2017 @ 6:21am
      The Barry said | March 17th 2017 @ 6:21am | ! Report

      Good list but a couple like Maloney and Cleary have snuck in with minimal games for the club. Definitely agree with your number one.

      No Ruben Wiki or Steve Price? Have they made their prior teams lists? Nigel Vagana?

      Sorry to be a nick picker but 152 isn’t more than double 77. You also have Cleary and Maloney as 4th highest point scorers. Maybe you can request an edit?

      • Roar Rookie

        March 17th 2017 @ 9:34am
        JOHNY BULLDOG said | March 17th 2017 @ 9:34am | ! Report

        Yeah,come on Bazza,stop “nick picking” 🙂

      • Roar Guru

        March 17th 2017 @ 10:37am
        BigJ said | March 17th 2017 @ 10:37am | ! Report

        Bazza, Price for the dogs Wiki for the Raiders. This one club rule of mine is really starting to backfire, but oh well. and picky picky, picky Baz. Two points, two points close enough.

    • March 17th 2017 @ 6:59am
      maximillian said | March 17th 2017 @ 6:59am | ! Report

      Good list Big J.

      I understand these list’s can be subjective but as a Warriors fan there are few names that would be close to the top 10.

      2 honourable mentions:
      Jacob Lillyman has played over 150 games & gone on to be part of QLDs dominant side during his time with the Warriors.
      Clinton Toopi was the clubs top try scorer 3 times & had a brief period where he was 1 of the best centres around.

      2 players that should be in there:
      Michael Luck was a tackling machine & very underrated. Played 150 games & had the heart of a lion.
      Brent Webb is the Warriors best ever fullback & played 17 tests for the Kiwis so Id fit him in.

      Id take out Hoppe. 3 wings in the top 10 doesn’t seem right, & he is the 3rd best we’ve had. Id also take out Cleary. He was solid & only played 53 games. I would get him to coach our best ever side though.

      All things considered a pretty good effort though.

      • Roar Guru

        March 17th 2017 @ 10:43am
        BigJ said | March 17th 2017 @ 10:43am | ! Report

        Thats mate, I probably should included some honourable mentions to cover as much players as possible. Toppi was my number eleven and its very hard to make these lists but people are happy enough.

    • Roar Guru

      March 17th 2017 @ 7:50am
      Con Scortis said | March 17th 2017 @ 7:50am | ! Report

      Nice one Big J.

      I agee with Baz that Ruben Wiki deserves a mention, but apart form that a great effort.

    • March 17th 2017 @ 9:15am
      Cedric said | March 17th 2017 @ 9:15am | ! Report

      I know you can’t fit them all in but these guys, some already mentioned, were special;
      Steve PRICE..
      Rueben WIKI.
      Nigel VAGANA.
      Joe VAGANA.
      Ali LAUTITI.
      Clinton TOOPI and Jerry SEU SEU. Of the last two they get a mention because Toopi, when he was on, was lethal on attack. Jerry was tougher than a Kenworth and never flinched.

    • Roar Guru

      March 17th 2017 @ 10:16am
      Sleiman Azizi said | March 17th 2017 @ 10:16am | ! Report

      Stacey Jones!

      • Roar Guru

        March 17th 2017 @ 10:44am
        BigJ said | March 17th 2017 @ 10:44am | ! Report

        Hey mate did you read my other records article about one of your glebe mates??

        • Roar Guru

          March 17th 2017 @ 8:54pm
          Sleiman Azizi said | March 17th 2017 @ 8:54pm | ! Report

          Which one?

          • Roar Guru

            March 17th 2017 @ 9:02pm
            BigJ said | March 17th 2017 @ 9:02pm | ! Report

            • Roar Guru

              March 17th 2017 @ 9:28pm
              Sleiman Azizi said | March 17th 2017 @ 9:28pm | ! Report

              Once Burge left Glebe, that was the end of them.

              That guy was beast.

              • Roar Guru

                March 17th 2017 @ 9:56pm
                BigJ said | March 17th 2017 @ 9:56pm | ! Report

                do these Glebe mob still exist in some sort local comp???

              • Roar Guru

                March 17th 2017 @ 10:06pm
                Sleiman Azizi said | March 17th 2017 @ 10:06pm | ! Report

                Ron Massey Cup.

                They compete as a joint venture with the Concord Burwood Wolves. Once they can get a full squad, they will, I think, compete on their own as Glebe.

                Still a top five winning percentage for a professional club – and their last professional match was in 1926.

                Australia’s first professional rugby league club…

              • Roar Guru

                March 17th 2017 @ 10:12pm
                BigJ said | March 17th 2017 @ 10:12pm | ! Report

                thats awesome, a nice history lesson, thanks

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