Thursday, 30 June 2016

Player Profile - Simon Mannering

Name: Simon Mannering
Warrior Number: 125
DOB: 28/8/86
Born: Napier, NZ
Club Debut: Rd 16, 2005 vs Brisbane Broncos
Position: Lock, Second Row and Centre

Wednesday, 29 June 2016


The game against the Sharks was by far the gutsiest effort form the Warriors in quite some time. The effort and commitment shown by the boys made me very proud to be a fan. Sadly that stoic effort has been largely overshadowed by Andrew McFadden's strange decision to bench Tuimoala Lolohea in favour of Jonathan Wright.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Round 16 Faither of the Week

Round 16
Southern Cross Group Stadium
Cronulla Sharks 19 def NZ Warriors 18
Faither of the Week -  Simon Mannering

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Warriors Best 1-17: Never to Play a Rep Match Edition

We've all seen lists of "The Greatest Warriors Teams Ever" float around in the past and while they are all just opinion pieces the majority of them aren't too far off the money. With this "Greatest Team" i thought i would put a different spin on things and only select players who never got the chance to play representative football.

Friday, 24 June 2016

Warriors Pushed to Limits Against Roosters

Written by Brad Inger

NRL 2016 Round 15 Review: Warriors Pushed to Limits in Messy Performance

After back to back impressive results, the Vodafone Warriors had a lot of momentum going into their Round 15 clash with the Sydney Roosters. The last time these teams faced each other resulted in a Golden Point victory to the Warriors and this match up proved just as tight with the Warriors holding on to win 12-10.

Round 15 Faither of the Week

Round 15
Mt Smart Stadium
NZ Warriors 12 def Sydney City Roosters 10
Faither of the Week - Issac Luke

Flash Back Friday - Preliminary Final vs Cronulla Sharks, 2002

***Flash Back Friday***

For this weeks Flash Back Friday we head back to the 2002 season, the season which would see the NZ Warriors make their debut appearance in a Grand Final.

After finishing the season on 38 competitions points,
which ultimately saw them claim their first minor premiership, albeit thanks to the Bulldogs being stripped of 37 points due to salary cap breaches, the Warriors faced the 8th places Canberra Raiders in the first week of the finals. The Warriors went on to win the game in convincing fashion 36-20.

Next up they faced the Cronulla Sharks in the preliminary final.

In front of 45,00 fans at Stadium Australia, many had tipped the Sharks to run away with this game. The Warriors on the other hand, had other ideas.

As the game approached the 20 minute mark, with the scores locked up at 0-0, Cronulla's Paul Mellor was wrapped up in a tackle, being forced backwards by Motu Tony and Richard Villisanti. In an attempt to get his side out of trouble, Mellor slipped a pass under pressure, falling straight into the waiting hands of Motu Tony who ran 25m to open up the scoring. With Ivan Cleary's successful conversion, the NZ side led 6-0.

As the 30 minute mark approached, Mellor was again the man involved in another Warriors try scoring chance. On the last tackle, Mellor put a grubber in only to be picked up by Stacey Jones 5m out from his on line. Once Jones picked the ball up he saw he had nobody in front of him and sprinted away into open pastures. With his opposite #7 in hot pursuit and with Meli on his inside, Jones put in a kick which resulted in a foot race between Meli and Mellor. As Meli was about to pick the ball up only metres away from the try line, Mellor managed to get his foot to the ball and kick it dead, denying the Warriors a certain try.

Early into the 2nd half, a cross field kick from Brett Kimmorley resulted in a try to Matthew Rieck. A missed conversion left the score at 6-4 in the Warriors favour.

10 minutes after the Sharks try, a slick back line move from the Warriors saw Clinton Toopi find some room to move on the outside. With Toopi leaving Greg Bird behind it was up to David Peachey to stop the try. With 20m to go and Peachey all but closing down the space Toopi had to work with it looked a certainty the the Sharks #1 would send the Warriors centre over the touch line. Toopi showed pace and strength to somehow skip past the fullback with no room to move and crash over in the corner, extending the Warriors lead. A missed conversion from Cleary left the score at 10-4 in favour of the Warriors

Shortly after the Warriors try, Kimmorley sliced through the defence to score right next to the posts. With the easy conversion being slotted over, the Sharks leveled the scores 10-10.

With 5 minutes to go, Stacey saw open spaces behind the Sharks defence and with a perfectly weighted grubber into the in-goal, John Carlaw managed to pick up with ease and dot down right next to the posts. With the conversion this gave the Warriors a 16-10 lead with only minutes remaining and would prove to be enough to send the "sleeping giants" of the NRL into their maiden Grand Final.


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Thursday, 23 June 2016

Player Profile - Meti Noovao

DOB: 08/03/74

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Feed The Beast - Backing Manu

Written by Gareth Sykes

Making his debut against the South Sydney Rabbitohs in Round 11, 2004, Manu Vatuvei has certainly had his fair share of ups and downs over his career. While question marks have always lingered over his handling skills and his turning circle being as big as the Queen Mary, there has never been any doubt over his try scoring ability, his ability to roll his sleeves up and gain big metres for his side coming out of trouble or his ability to raise the level of confidence in his fellow team mates just by his presence on the field. Over the years The Beast has become a fan favourite, a cult hero among supporters and an idol/hero among the younger generation of Warriors fans.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

1998: Record Low Crowds

In what was the Warriors 4th season in the ARL, it was a year that presented them with not only their lowest finish in their short history but also saw crowds plummet, with an average attendance of under 9000 people.

Friday, 17 June 2016

Flash Back Friday - Semi Final #1 vs Sydney City, 2008

***Flashback Friday***

This week we go back to 2008 where the NZ Warriors faced off against the Sydney City Roosters in Semi Final #1.

After becoming the first 8th placed side to defeat the Minor Premiers (Melbourne Storm) in the Qualifying Final, the Warriors would eventually go on to be just 1 game short of their 2nd Grand Final appearance, where they went down in the preliminary final to eventual winners Manly, losing 32-6.

In front of 25,595 fans at Mt Smart Stadium, the NZ Warriors defeated the Roosters 30-13, giving Kiwi legend Ruben Wiki the perfect farewell as he played his last game on NZ soil.

The NZ Warriors got off to a dream start, with a grubber from Michael Witt bouncing off the upright 2 minutes into the game straight into the hands of Lance Hohaia to score under the posts. 2 quick tries to the Roosters, 1 from Mitchell Pearce in the 30th minutes followed by a penalty try being awarded to Anthony Minichiello after being impeded by Lance Hohaia saw the Roosters skip away to a 12-6 lead. With roughly 30 seconds remaining until half-time, Braith Anasta slotted over a field goal to give his side a 13-6 lead at half-time.

Only winning 2 games from 10 attempts while trailing at half-time, the Warriors showed in the 2nd half that statistics don't mean anything and the side came out breathing fire to play arguably their best 40 mins of football for 2008.

With the Warriors applying pressure early in the 2nd half, Lance Hohaia sliced through the Roosters defence on the back of a forced drop out to score right under the posts to get the score back to 13-12. A cross field bomb from Nathan Fien had Aiden Kirk flying through the air and crashing over the line, only to have the video ref rule that the ball had been held up.

In the 56th minute, Ian Henderson showed strength and determination to cross the line under the posts. With the decision going upstairs, the video ref gave the home side the benefit of the doubt and awarded the try.

As the game approached the 1 hour mark, a slick back line move saw The Beast crash over into the corner to help his side extend the lead. With 2 tries next to his name, Hohaia gave the last pass to give himself the try assist and Michael Witt, as cool as you like, nailed the conversion from right on the sideline, kicking it straight over the black dot to give the on fire Warriors side an 11 point lead with 20 minutes to go.

From the ensuing kick off, Nathan Fien catches the ball, passing it onto a rampaging and screaming Ruben Wiki who knocked out Iosia Soliola while attempting to make the tackle. It was at this moment the win was beyond doubt and the noise from the crowd was deafening.

With 7 minutes to go, Aidan "Captain" Kirk, swooped on a poor pass by Anthony Tupou on his own 20m line and sprinted away to score under the posts, sending the Warriors to be 1 game away from playing in their 2nd Grand Final.


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Fusitu'a Shines in Newcastle

Written by Brad Inger

NRL 2016 Round 14 Review: Fusitu'a Shines in Newcastle
NZ Warriors 50 def Newcastle Knights 14

After an impressive performance in Round 13 against the Brisbane Broncos, the Vodafone Warriors made the journey to Newcastle to play Newcastle Knights.

The Warriors were expected to continue in the same form they displayed last round but with some early errors made in the first half the Knights were keeping themselves in the game and by halftime were only behind the Warriors 22-14.

The second half started and David Fusitu’a arrived with three tries back to back and the Warriors put their foot down and ran away with a 50-14 victory.

Well, what can I say about this result?

The Warriors were always expected to come away with a large victory over what has been a woeful Knights team but I think what impressed me more was the defense. In the first 40, the Warriors made some errors and silly penalties in their own territory but kept the Knights from scoring. The line speed was impressive for the second week in a row; the team shifted sideways as a unit and did not leave gaps for the Knights to target and by the time the second half had started the Knights were completely out of options and to the Warriors credit, they did not let the pressure off and continued to score.

Was it a perfect performance? No, definitely not. The NZ based side still continue to have handling errors in their game and if they don’t eliminate those they could find themselves in trouble against the top four sides in the NRL.

The missed tackles and penalties have reduced dramatically and I think this is an ongoing sign of the attitude change this team has had. Attitude makes a huge difference and if the Warriors keep this attitude on board, I feel that the playoff-bound clubs will be watching over their shoulders as a confident Warriors team is a dangerous team.

My player of the day goes unsurprisingly to David Fusitu’a.

After scoring two tries against the Broncos last week, David turned it up a notch and bagged four tries in this match.

With Manu Vatuvei nearing retirement age for a League player David is putting his hand up to take the Beast’s try-scoring heroics over. He is fast, strong and his ability to score in the corner continues to amaze me, unfortunately, injuries have plagued his short career so far but if he can keep healthy he will be a key contributor to the Warriors for years to come.

And for the second week in the round I could not pick a player that needs to improve. I have watched this game countless times now and I find it hard to nitpick a player that let the team down simply because right now this team is playing for each other and I'm hoping this is a trait that is going to stick around.

Round 15 sees the Warriors return to Mount Smart Stadium and play the Sydney Roosters.

The Roosters have been uncharismatically poor this season but this does not mean that they will be easy beats for the Warriors, just remember it took a Golden Point try by Roger Tuivasa-Sheck for the Warriors to defeat them in Round 5 earlier this season. The Warriors need to be prepared for a tough physical battle in the forwards and need to bring the same defensive mindset from the past fortnight if they are to come away with the victory.

I'm expecting a Warriors win here but I don’t see it being a blowout like the past two rounds and the Warriors will win by around 10 points.

What are your thoughts on this performance?

Is David Fusitu’a going to be the Warriors new Beast?

How do you see this weeks game going, A Warriors blowout, close win or a loss?

Comment below and let me know.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Player Profile - Syd Eru

DOB: 26/7/1971
CLUB DEBUT: 28/3/1995 vs WESTS

The Future Starts with the Present

Written by Gareth Sykes

To point out the obvious, every NRL side in the competition has a wealth of young, up and coming talent. The issue every side faces is being able to identify that talent. Who should they hold onto? Which ones should they let go?

Monday, 13 June 2016

Round 14 Faither of the Week

Round 14
Hunter Stadium
NZ Warriors 50 def Newcastle Knights 14
Faither of the Week - David Fusitua

The votes have been tallied and this week, becoming the first Warriors player to pick up the Faither Award for the 2nd time, is David Fusitua.

The 21 year old was Fusituarrific in the clash against the Knights, becoming only the 7th player in Warriors history to bag himself 4 tries in the one game on his way to making it 7 tries in as many appearances this season.

In an effort that included more than just his try scoring heroics and his insane acrobatic finishing, David also had 4 line breaks, 3 tackle breaks and ran for 192m.

With zero handling errors, zero missed tackles and zero penalties conceded, he was 1 of only 2 Warriors players to have a flawless game in the error department.

Certainly a very worthy winner for the Rd 14 Faither of the Week

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Saturday, 11 June 2016

The Aussie Invasion of Mt Smart

Written by Gareth Sykes

Much like the 4.5 million people that call this beautiful country home that the New Zealand franchise base themselves in, the fans of the Vodafone Warriors are from all walks of life, cultures, backgrounds, lifestyles and upbringings. As different as we may be, we are all very much the same.

Friday, 10 June 2016

Flashback Friday - Round 6, 2005. Warriors vs Knights


This Flashback Friday we rewind the clock back to 17 April 2005, where at Australia Energy Stadium (now known as Hunter Stadium) we were down 20 to nil after 39 minutes. Right on halftime the Warriors score taking the score to 20-6. The 2nd half would see the Warriors claw back the score and eventually win the game 26-30.

Part of what started the fightback was when Andrew Johns, of 9th Immortal pinger popping fame, collided with Jerome Ropati and broke his jaw. Up until then he was putting on a masterclass. Also going in the Warriors favour was Knights lock Daniel Abraham going off with a broken leg.

To date the 20 point deficit is still the Warriors biggest ever comeback.


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Thursday, 9 June 2016

Round 13 Faither of the Week

Round 13
Mt Smart Stadium
NZ Warriors 36 def Brisbane Broncos 18
Faither of the Week - Shaun Johnson

The votes have been tallied and the #FaitherSupporters "Faither of the Week" award for Round 13 goes to the Warriors #7 Shaun Johnson.

After opening up with Veitchy earlier in the week where he explained his frustrations with his own game and the struggles he faces with outside noise, Shaun went back to enjoying his footy again and showed the critics and faithers alike, just what he is capable of when he has a smile on his face on the footy field.

SJ scored a try and went agonizingly close to scoring a 2nd as he jinked and stepped his way through would be defenders only to be stopped a couple of metres out from the try line. He also had 2 try assists, 2 line breaks and kicked 4 from 7.

It's important to give the forwards credit for Johnson's dazzling display. The engine room did their job, allowing SJ the space and time required for him to work his magic.

Let's hope this is the start of our push to the finals and SJ keeps that sort of form up.


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Kiwi Player Profile - Henry Paul

DOB: 10/02/1974 (AGE 42)
CLUBS: (Rugby League clubs only. Rugby Union not included)
  • 1994-1998 WIGAN WARRIORS
  • 1999-2001 BRADFORD BULLS
  • 2006-2008 LONDON HARLEQUINS 

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Vodafone Warriors Turned Horse Whisperers

Written by Brad Inger

NRL 2016 Round 13 Review: Warriors too much for Bumbling Broncos
NZ Warriors 36 def Brisbane Broncos 18

The Vodafone Warriors turned Horse Whisperers in their round 13 match-up with the Brisbane Broncos running away with a 36-18 victory at Mount Smart Stadium.

Andrew McFadden stated during the week that the Warriors needed to have a more positive attack in order to increase the team’s confidence which will, in turn, improve their defensive efforts.

The boys were granted a free licence and they took it with both hands. Right from Albert Vete’s first hit up you could clearly see that the team’s attitude had vastly improved. The attitude and commitment shown from the playing group in this match has been something the fans have been begging for since the beginning of the season.

No longer did this side look lost in attack. The forwards were chewing up the metres through the middle allowing Issac Luke to get a roll on from the play the ball causing the broncos to constantly be on the back foot. With the forwards dominating the battle up front, Shaun Johnson finally had the room to attack the line and be the devastating attacking player that he is known to be.

Everything seemed to work for the Warriors in this game, from the bounce of the ball to most of the offloads sticking and in what was a welcome change we were even awarded those 50/50 calls from the referee. They gave themselves plenty of attacking opportunities and after 21 minutes they were 18-0 up after some clever plays from Shaun Johnson, scoring a try himself and setting Bodene Thompson up for another, Jacob Lillyman scored the third from a nicely placed grubber from Issac Luke.

The Broncos tried to get themselves back into the match with a try to Alex Glenn and before the end of the first half they had two tries pulled back for forward passes to go into halftime 18-6 down.

We've seen many games where this side would have folded in the past but two minutes into the second stanza the Warriors were over again through an amazing diving try by David Fusitu’a. The NZ based side scored three more tries through Ryan Hoffman, David Fusitu’a who bagged himself a double and Solomone Kata. Brisbane could only manage two more tries to Jordan Kahu and Tevita Pangai but the Broncos were never in this match and were possibly lucky to only have lost 36-18.

The line speed shown from the home team was the best I have seen for month’s, maybe even years, missed tackles were few and far between and importantly those silly errors and penalties that have plagued this side this season were gone.

My player of the day goes to Shaun Johnson, with the forwards doing the hard yards up front he had free reign in this game and he took full advantage. An attacking Shaun is a dangerous Shaun and the fans will be hoping that this version is here to stay this season.

As for my player who needs to improve, well I cannot pick a player who needs to improve this week as I can’t point out anyone who let the team down, this was the first complete team effort we have seen this year.

Have things started to click with the Warriors? Did Konrad Hurrell’s exit last week help realign this team as a unit and/or perhaps the players open honesty session last week helped the players get onto the same page. In all honesty, I think it’s a little from column A and a little from column B.

Whatever was said in the honesty session seems to have helped this team actually buy into what this club is trying to become. Does this mean that the season is saved? No, possibly not. This is just a step in the right direction and the team needs to continue to bring the right attitude each and every week.

The Warriors face the Newcastle Knights in Round 14. Although the Knights have only managed the one win this season, the Warriors cannot afford to let their guard down. Their current points differential is not going to do them any favours come seasons end if they stay deep in the negatives so they really need to put some big performances in to bring them into contention with the top 8.

Who were your key players in this victory?

What do think was the reason for this change in performance and is this a permanent change for the season?

Comment and let me know.


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Sunday, 5 June 2016

The Aussies: Warriors Best 1-17 from Across the Ditch

Written by Gareth Sykes

It's not an uncommon occurrence to come across a debate within a NZ Warriors fan page where you have one group of people arguing that "we have too many Aussies in the side" while another group will argue just as passionately "we need more Aussies".

Quite frankly, i think the argument is absurd. The powers that be within the club spend the money on a player who they feel will best fulfill the required role within the playing group. A players country of birth has nothing to do with anything and to be honest, it leaves me scratching my head why this argument even arises to begin with.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Shaun Johnson: From Golden Boot to Black Sheep

Written by Gareth Sykes

SJ, Magic Johnson, Princess, Shaun or Johnson, whatever name you use to refer to the Warriors number 7 there is no denying the huge amounts of natural talent this young man possesses.

Round 13 Game Day

NZ Warriors vs Brisbane Broncos
Saturday June 4th
Mt Smart Stadium
5pm (NZT) 3pm (AEST)

Match Officials
Referee: Henry Perenara
Assistant Referee: Chris James


1. Tuimoala Lolohea         
2. David Fusitua                   
3. Blake Ayshford                      
4. Solomone Kata                          
5. Manu Vatuvei                                 
6. Thomas Leuleuai                                    
7. Shaun Johnson                                    
8. Jacob Lillyman
9. Issac Luke
10. Ben Matulino
11. Bodene Thompson
12. Ryan Hoffman
13. Simon Mannering

14. Nathaniel Roache
15. Sam Lisone
16. Albert Vete
17. Charlie Gubb
18. Ligi Sao


1. Darius Boyd
2. Lachlan Maranta
3. Jack Reed
4. James Roberts
5. Jordan Kahu
6. Anthony Milford
7. Ben Hunt
8. Josh McGuire
9. Travis Waddell
10. Adam Blair
11. Alex Glenn
12. Sam Thaiday
13. Corey Parker

14. Jarrod Wallace 
15. Tevita Pangai Junior
16. Joe Ofahengaue
17. Kodi Nikorima
18. Herman Ese'ese
19. Jai Arrow

With the Warriors heading into this Round 13 clash fresh from the bye, supporters will be hoping for a vastly improved performance from the side that coughed up one of their worst displays in recent memory against the Canberra Raiders in Round 11. 

After hearing reports that the players have held a crisis meeting in a bid to clear the air, allowing themselves to speak honestly and openly with each other in an attempt to put to bed whatever the underlying issues have been for recent below-par performances, one must feel that the penny has finally dropped within the playing group.  I think it's a fair assumption to suggest that player power has been a long term issue within the ranks.  Now that they've had a line drawn in the sand by senior figures within the club, that's hopefully sending out a crystal clear message that poor performances will not be tolerated, it may finally be clicking that throwing your toys about as a player isn't going to work anymore, you either step up to the plate or walk out the door.
In years gone by, you could almost put your house on the line betting on the Warriors to win with them being in a similar position. Unfortunately, from what we've seen so far, 2016 doesn't seem to be one of those years where we ride that roller coaster and manage to bounce back like a team possessed after a poor outing. 

Looking at the team on paper, this would have to be as close to full strength as we can get. It's vital that our big names turn up to play tomorrow and are switched on from the very first whistle. It is critical to our performance that our forward pack earn their money this weekend, Matulino, Lillyman, Hoffman, Mannering and Thompson need to be battle ready and get over the advantage line from the first set to allow Luke, Johnson and Lolohea to work their magic. Without the ball in hands we must remember that defence is the first form of attack. Who remembers a few years back when we would drive defenders back with every tackle? We need that mongrel again! We need to see a side who trusts one another and we need to see a side that will put their body on the line, time and time again, purely so they don't let their brothers down.

Our left edge gets a little bit of normality back to it with Manu Vatuvei rejoining the team after being away on medical/personal leave as well as the inclusion of Solomone Kata who returns from his week long suspension. 

Manu might be a man best avoided if you're in Broncos colours for this game.  He'll be out to prove the doubters wrong, regain the faith from those who have lost it and will send his apology to family, team mates, fans, officials, sponsors and all those he feels he let down, the only way he knows how, by letting his footy do the talking. 

The Broncos are odds on favourites for this one but that's just how the Warriors like it.  The expectations will be low and an upset the furthest thing from any Rugby League tragic's mind. The Warriors will have a point to prove in front of their home crowd and with the inclusion of a couple of superstars back into the Warriors line up and the short turn around the Broncos Origin players have been forced to face, an upset is well and truly on the cards. Brisbane have only managed 1 win from their last 5 outing at Mt Smart, lets hope that's about to be 1 from 6.

Warriors by 4 in what could well be looked back upon as a season defining moment.


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Friday, 3 June 2016

1997: Super League

Matthew Ridge was the Warriors 3rd captain in as many years
1997 was the Auckland Warriors 3rd first grade season in the Australasian Rugby League competition. John Monie again had the job of head coach for the year but after starting the campaign with 6 losses from the opening 9 rounds, Monie was replaced by Frank Endacott who would take over from Round 10. 

Flashback Friday - Round 25, 2010: Warriors vs Broncos


With the biggest crowd of the season at Mt Smart Stadium crammed in to farewell one of Rugby Leagues favourite sons, Steve Price, this Flashback Friday we remember a game we played against the Broncos in Round 25 of 2010. 

In one of the most dominant performances the Warriors have ever played against the Broncos we would go on to win 36-4. In fact, right up until the dying stages of the match the Warriors were leading 36 nil. 

Manu "The Beast" Vatuvei celebrated his new 2 year deal with the Warriors by touching down for the first 4 pointer of the game. Doubles to both Lance Hohaia and Lewis Brown as well as tries to Mannering and Matulino ensured a fond farewell for Price as well as well earned celebrations for the contract extension of Manu. 

Just as great as the result was, one of the greatest moments involves a piece of individual brilliance for the "Huntly Hurricane", Lance Hohaia. He breaks the line down the middle and with only Josh Hoffman left to beat he chips, chases and regathers to score.

It wasn't just tries, farewells and celebrations in this game. We all got to watch on gleefully as Ben Matulino and Jacob Lillyman put on one of the hits of the year to knock the sense out of Sam Thaiday. If all this wasn't enough to rub salt into the wounds of the Broncos, we had the joy of watching some vintage Brent Tate, causing his former team mates nightmares as he opened up the line on numerous occasions creating havoc down their left hand defensive edge.


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Player Profile - Jonathan Smith

DOB: 20/02/79 (AGE 37)