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Sunday footy's back at last

Richard Becht | Image: www.photosport.nz

Sunday footy triple header-style is back at Mount Smart Stadium at last this weekend.

Many no doubt feel it’s long before time.

Check back through the draw and you’ll find this will be the first time the Vodafone Warriors have had a Sunday NRL match anywhere in the best part of three and a half months.

The last occasion was the April 30 home clash against the Sydney Roosters when the Vodafone Warriors produced arguably their best display of the season winning 14-13.

The 11 matches since have followed a regular pattern of a Saturday game followed by a Friday night fixture right through to last Saturday’s encounter with the Knights.

At last the sequence has been broken this week for what will be the fifth Sunday game day of the season at Mount Smart.

Perhaps it’s more than a coincidence as well that the Vodafone Warriors have a perfect record in their previous four Sunday matches at home this year.

They opened their campaign with a 26-22 win over Newcastle on March 5 and then delivered back-to-back Sunday successes over Gold Coast (28-22) on April 2 and Parramatta (22-10) on April 9 before continuing the Sunday run against the Roosters.

There’s a real smorgasbord on offer for this week’s round 23 game day.

Back in harness for the Vodafone Warriors is the much-missed experienced second rower Ryan Hoffman, returning after a six-week lay-off with a foot injury. Another feature of the side named is the starting role handed to hooker Nathaniel Roache, who was so impressive against Newcastle last Saturday.

Canberra will add plenty of lustre with its array of talent.

In the backline, the Raiders boast Kiwi wing Jordan Rapana, fullback Jack Wighton, centres Joey Leilua and Jarrod Croker, rookie wing Nick Cotric and halves Blake Austin and Adam Sezer.

The forwards feature massive units in the shape of Shannon Boyd and Junior Paulo as well as back rowers Josh Papalii, Joseph Tapine and Elliot Whitehead plus accomplished hooker Josh Hodgson. And lurking on the interchange is the imposing Dave Taylor.

The main curtain-raiser is must-watch football fare – the Intrust Super Premiership encounter between the Vodafone Warriors and the Wentworthville Magpies (1.45pm kick-off).

With just three rounds left before the ISP finals, the Vodafone Warriors will be looking to back up their last-start 32-22 win over the Mounties to stay on track to retain second spot on the ladder. The line-up named includes 11 players who have NRL experience.

Another big attraction will be the presence of softball’s world champion Black Sox who’ll be introduced to the crowd.

They won the world title for a record seventh time beating Australia 6-4 in Whitehorse, Yukon in Canada. The triumph was made possible when Joel Evans blasted a grand slam home run.

Team members at Mount Smart Stadium on Sunday will be players Nathan Nukunuku (captain), Thomas Enoka (vice-captain), Cole Evans, Brad Rona, Ben Enoka and Campbell Gibson plus Jayden Moore (manager), Darryl Marino (assistant coach), Guy Mothersole (trainer) and Paul Aitu (medical lead).

BUY TICKETS NOW | VODAFONE WARRIORS v CANBERRA, MOUNT SMART STADIUM, SUNDAY, AUGUST 13 (4.00PM)