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Finals regret for departing Warriors

Warriors prop Ben Matulino has admitted Sunday afternoon's match against the Manly Sea Eagles has been weighing heavily on his mind in recent times, as he prepares to farewell the stadium he has called home for the past decade. 

One of the original success stories of the National Youth Competition system, Matulino made his NRL Telstra Premiership debut for the Warriors in Round 14 of 2008 and has hardly looked back, going on to amass 210 first-grade games for the club.

But while happy to go under the radar this week before his last home match in Auckland, Wests Tigers-bound Matulino told it had been impossible to keep the occasion out of his head.

"I think about it every day that my time at the club is getting less and less, so I am just trying to make the most of it now and enjoying my time with the boys," Matulino said.

"I owe the club quite a bit, they signed me when I was a 17-year-old and I have been up here for 10 years now, so I owe them plenty. They have given me plenty.

"I just want to play my game and leave it at that, I don't need a send-off or anything like that."

‌There will be no dream finish for Matulino at the Warriors, with the club in the midst of a seven-game losing run which has seen them plummet down the ladder and miss the finals for the sixth year in a row. 

Having made the play-offs in three of his first four seasons in the top grade, including the 2011 Grand Final, the 28-year-old prop hasn't played in the post-season since and said he would leave with some lingering disappointment.

"It's probably not the way I saw the end happening," Matulino said.

"Thinking back on it, when I first joined the team in 2008 making the finals was a regular thing and I took that for granted.

"As it turns out we haven't been there since… making it this year was something I really wanted to do."

It is a similar story for departing back-rower Ryan Hoffman, who has spent three seasons in Auckland and captained the side last year.

"I regret that I never took the team to the semi-finals, 100 per cent," Hoffman said.

"I am just disappointed because I feel like I have some unfinished business with the club in taking them to the finals, unfortunately that won't happen, but you are always going to have regrets of the bad times.

"[But] I have really loved my three years regardless of what has happened on the field. Off field has been fantastic and it has been a great move for myself and my family."

In addition to Matulino and Hoffman, Sunday will also mark the home farewells for Kieran Foran and Charlie Gubb, while long-serving injured prop Jacob Lillyman remains without a contract beyond this year as well.


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