Business as usual for Vatuvei
In a week where everyone tried to make the game something different than the 199 he had played previously, Manu Vatuvei ensured it was just business as usual on Saturday night.
Vatuvei contributed two line breaks, 117 metres and two tries, one of which was a Vatuvei classic, wrapping his 112kg frame around the sideline to cross out wide with two defenders hanging off him to help his side to a 32-22 victory.
In registering his 23rd career double Vatuvei also equalled Nigel Vagana as the most-prolific try scoring Kiwi in Telstra Premiership history with 140.
Given his current vein of form it won't be long before he owns the record outright either.
Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson said the honours were fitting for a man who has become the poster boy for rugby league in New Zealand across 11 seasons in the NRL.
"He is creating his own legacy right now and is just such a massive influence in the side," Johnson said.
"He is the face of the club, kids love him and everyone knows him.
"What he has had done for this club is probably a bigger deal for all the boys around him, he is that sort of guy who didn't want to make the week about himself at all.
"He treated it like a normal week and just went out there and did his thing.
"I am so happy for him that we could get the result.
"Manu is Manu, we won't compare him to anyone."
After entering to a standing ovation from the 13,781 in attendance at Mt Smart Stadium, Vatuvei received the two biggest cheers of the night when he went over for his 16th and 70th minute tries.
The dream night concluded with All Blacks legend and childhood idol Jonah Lomu presenting Vatuvei with a framed photo of him and his daughters.
The Warriors had gone to significant effort just to get the gift ready in time, snapping the photo as Vatuvei entered the field against the Tigers before dodging Auckland traffic to get it printed and framed in time for presentation minutes after the game.
Wests Tigers veteran Dene Halatau, who had previously played alongside Vatuvei for the Kiwis, added to the tributes post game.
"He is a great guy Manu, he has represented New Zealand with distinction and obviously the Warriors as well," he said.
"He is a good family guy and everyone who has played with him or against him has a lot of respect for him.
"You could definitely feel that in the crowd tonight, they were right behind him when he came out and there was a big cheer when he scored the first try.
"Everyone was right behind him…it's a wonderful achievement for him and I am very happy he has done this with his career."