Auckland, New Zealand, April 18, 2017 – Ben Matulino’s comeback moves a step closer with his inclusion in the extended 21-man squad for the Vodafone Warriors’ traditional Anzac Day NRL clash against the Storm at AMII Park in Melbourne next Tuesday (7.00pm kick-off local time; 9.00pm NZT).

While the match is still a week away, the Vodafone Warriors are required to submit their squad as usual today.

In doing so, head coach Stephen Kearney has included the 28-year-old Matulino in his line-up of eight interchange contenders.

The senior prop, four games short of becoming just the club’s fourth 200-game player, has been sidelined following knee surgery.

“Ben’s getting closer,” said Kearney.

“He has been making good progress since returning to full training and should be ready to play soon.”

When he does make his comeback, Matulino will join the handful of players who have appeared across 10 NRL seasons for the Vodafone Warriors – Stacey Jones, Awen Guttenbeil, Lance Hohaia, Jerome Ropati, Manu Vatuvei, Simon Mannering and Sam Rapira.

Matulino’s inclusion on the bench is the only change from the 21-man squad initially named for last Saturday’s clash against Canberra. He joins Nathaniel Roache, Charlie Gubb, Ligi Sao, Sam Lisone, Bunty Afoa, Ata Hingano and Mason Lino on the extended bench.

Next Tuesday’s encounter will be the eighth Anzac Day match between the Storm and the Vodafone Warriors since the fixture was first introduced in 2009. On that occasion, the match finished in a 14-14 draw after golden point extra time. Current assistant coach Stacey Jones lined up for the Vodafone Warriors that day; of this year’s squad, veteran back rower Simon Mannering, front rowers Jacob Lillyman and Matulino plus wing Manu Vatuvei played for the Vodafone Warriors while Ryan Hoffman was in the Storm’s line-up.

The Vodafone Warriors will head to Melbourne with a 3-4 win-loss record after their seventh-round 8-20 reverse against the Raiders in Canberra on Saturday.