Matulino creates an NRL first in 100th game
Tuesday 19 June 2012 6:05 PM
Vodafone Warriors prop Ben Matulino created an even more significant slice of history than initially thought when he appeared in his 100th NRL game in Saturday night’s encounter with Cronulla.
Checks have confirmed he didn’t merely become the first Vodafone Junior Warriors NYC graduate to play 100 first-grade games for the club; he is indeed the first NYC product from all 16 clubs to achieve the feat since the Toyota Cup’s came into existence five years ago.
A foundation NYC player in 2008, Matulino also made his first-grade debut as a 19-year-old the same season.
Having played every match in 2010 and 2011 – 53 in all – the Wellington-born and raised forward started the 2012 season with 86 appearances, two more than Parramatta halfback Chris Sandow, a South Sydney NYC player in the under-20 competition’s opening season.
In his 14th game of the year on Saturday night – his 67th consecutive appearance – Matulino became the 20th player to reach the 100-game mark for the Vodafone Warriors since the club’s debut in 1995.
Sandow, who has played 12 times for the Eels this year, is set to become the next NYC graduate to bring up his 100th appearance, sitting on 96 at the moment.
It says much for the Vodafone Warriors’ commitment to its development policy that Matulino’s front row partner Russell Packer is in line to become the third NYC product to amass 100 NRL appearances. Packer, like Matulino, also made his NRL debut in 2008 and currently sits on 91 NRL games.
Matulino, only 23, has the further distinction of having already played in 12 Tests for the Kiwis including the 2010 Four Nations final triumph against Australia at Suncorp Stadium.
Other NYC graduates closing in on 100 NRL games are Brisbane hooker Andrew McCullough (91), his team-mate and Kiwi back rower Alex Glenn (89) and Canterbury-Bankstown prop Aiden Tolman (89).