Matulino and Henry extend contracts to end of 2015
Thursday 28 June 2012 4:03 PM
Prop Ben Matulino has today committed his playing future to the Vodafone Warriors until at least the end of the 2015 NRL season.
And joining him by also extending his contract to the end of 2015 is rookie centre Ben Henry, who has featured in every game so far this season.
Head coach Brian McClennan confirmed the signings exclusively to Vodafone Warriors platinum members at a corporate members-only event tonight when they watched the NRL team’s opposed training session with the Vodafone Junior Warriors followed by a barbecue with the players and football staff.
McClennan hailed the contribution both players had already made to the Vodafone Warriors.
“They’re both fantastic examples of our development programme,” he said.
“For a player who’s only 23, Ben Matulino has achieved so much and done so well for himself.
“To have already played 100 NRL matches as well as 12 Tests is a great achievement. He’s been in outstanding form for us all season and I know how much it means to him to play for our club.
“It’s the same with Ben Henry who has done a fantastic job playing in the centres. He’s only 20 and has just kept improving with each game.
“These two young men will be a big part of the Vodafone Warriors for a long time to come.”
Wellington-born Matulino not only played his first NRL game against Cronulla at Toyota Stadium in 2008 but also brought up his 100th appearance against the same opposition and at the same venue almost four years to the day later.
The 20th player to join the Vodafone Warriors’ 100-game club, Matulino became a history-maker on June 16 as the first NYC graduate from any club to reach the 100- game mark in the NRL.
On Sunday he’ll line up against the North Queensland Cowboys in his first game at Mount Smart Stadium since his feat.
“I’m really glad to be playing here for the Vodafone Warriors,” he said.
“To be honest, I can’t picture myself playing anywhere else. I like it here so much, coming through the club with so many players who have been part of the Vodafone Junior Warriors and now the NRL side. There’s so much talent here and I want to be a part of it and do what I can to help the club in every way possible.”
Known as a quiet achiever but a highly-visible hard-hitting defender, Matulino became an NRL player after starting out in the inaugural NYC campaign in 2008. Initially a second rower, he has converted to the front row, evolving from a bench role to a regular starting prop.
Reflecting his form this season, Matulino ranks 12th equal on the points table for the Dally M Player of the Year. He has 12 points, seven behind the leader Cooper Cronk and just one behind the only forwards ahead of him back rowers Paul Gallen (Cronulla) and Greg Bird (Gold Coast) and Wests Tigers prop Aaron Woods.
In the 30-16 win against Penrith, Matulino had career-best numbers for a game with 22 runs for 225 metres.
Henry was marked for a big future from the moment he came into the Vodafone Junior Warriors as a 17-year-old in 2009. Used as a back rower in the NYC, he was converted into a centre for his rookie NRL season. Since making his debut against Manly on March 4 he has played 14 games straight and scored four tries.
“I’m like Ben (Matulino) in the sense this is the club I always wanted to be a part of and it’s where I want to stay,” he said.
“It’s a real honour to be representing the Vodafone Warriors and to be playing in the NRL is a huge thrill. I really appreciate the work the coaching staff and all the senior players put into me. I just want to learn and improve as much as I can.”
Henry is easily the NRL’s busiest centre on defence, making 293 tackles so far. He’s also one of the most reliable defenders among all NRL centres.
As an NYC player Henry made a club record 64 appearances in the grade. Injury robbed him of captaining the Vodafone Junior Warriors to their maiden premiership in 2010 but he made amends when he led the side to their grand final victory in his last NYC appearance last year.