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22 Jan 2018 9:18
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  •   Home > News > Sports > Rugby League

    Teary Vatuvei gets Warriors farewell, haka

    Salford-bound Warriors legend Manu Vatuvei received a haka from his teammates on Friday night, but wasn't able to close out his time in Auckland with a win.

    - article from www.rugbyleague.co.nz

    Faithful to the very last, Manu Vatuvei will turn up at Mount Smart Stadium on Saturday afternoon to watch the Warriors' reserve grade side - barely 24 hours before departing for northern England.

    The 226-game powerhouse was farewelled on something of a sour note on Friday night, as his long-time NRL club fell 34-22 to Penrith.

    Plenty had been arranged to honour the Salford-bound winger - including masks, T-shirts and renaming Mount Smart Stadium the "Manu Vatuvei Stadium" - but in the end, his teammates couldn't get the job done during the 80 minutes.

    Afterwards, a teary Vatuvei - who was ceremonially named in the No.5 jumper but did not play - was treated to a farewell haka.

    Although currently fit, ongoing knee and calf injuries have restricted the 31-year-old to just one NRL appearance in 2017, against the Bulldogs in Dunedin.

    He's the first NRL player in history to score 10 tries or more in 10 consecutive NRL seasons, and is the Warriors' all-time leading try-scorer with 152.

    "I'm a bit of a softie, but it just meant a lot for myself, to see how the boys were and to turn around the see the boys do a haka for me. It was something special, I'll cherish every moment," Vatuvei told reporters.

    "They said they let me down today, but they never let me down, no matter what. I know how it feels when you go out there and try your best."

    Vatuvei will fly out to Manchester on Sunday, having been released from his Warriors contract earlier this week, and hopes to make his UK Super League debut for second-placed Salford as soon as possible.

    But first he'll return to south Auckland on Saturday, where he'll be one of just a handful of supporters to watch the reserve grade side take on Illawarra.

    "I'll support the brothers no matter what, with everything they do - I'll be here tomorrow to support the boys, hang out with them," Vatuvei said.

    "It's going to be different (at Salford). It still feels weird, it doesn't feel like I'm leaving yet, but it'll hit me once I get on that plane.

    "I was just humbled to have made an impact like that."


    NZN




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