NRL PREVIEW: Vodafone Warriors v Raiders

Dane Nielsen has been confirmed to return from his rib injury with winger Bill Tupou making way for him for the Vodafone Warriors sixth-round NRL clash against the Raiders at Canberra Stadium tonight (7.30pm kick-off local time; 9.30pm NZT). Photo: Photosport.


With Elijah Taylor (rib cartilage) and Jacob Lillyman (ankle) unable to travel with the side, the interchange now comprises Sam Rapira, Ben Henry, Pita Godinet and Sebastine Ikahihifo.


Rapira, the players player of the day in last weeks 22-24 loss to South Sydney, was originally named to start tonight but head coach Matthew Elliott has swapped him with Ben Matulino.


Lillymans unavailability means the Vodafone Warriors have been forced to put on hold plans to reunite their first-choice propping combination of Lillyman, Rapira, Matulino and Russell Packer which hasnt been used since round 13 on June 3 last year.


Taylors injury delays his opportunity to make his milestone 50th NRL appearance.


While he waits, captain Simon Mannering plays his 171st match tonight, moving into outright fourth spot on the clubs list of all-time appearances.


The Vodafone Warriors, like many teams in the NRL, have found Canberra Stadium one of the most challenging venues to win at throughout their history.


In 10 visits to the venue theyve won just once, that success as long ago as 1997. Their only other triumph was in a one-off encounter at Manuka Oval in 2001.


Four of the Vodafone Warriors coaching staff have strong connections with the Australian capital.


Head coach Elliott coached the Raiders from 2001-2006; assistant coach McFadden played 76 times for them from 1997-2001 and was assistant coach from 2010-2012; head strength and conditioning coach Carl Jennings had the same role with Canberra from 2001-2006; and Ruben Wiki played 225 of his 312 NRL games for the Raiders from 1993-2004.


VODAFONE WARRIORS v CANBERRA RAIDERS


Canberra Stadium, Canberra

7.30pm, Saturday, April 13

Referees: Adam Devcich and Chris James


VODAFONE WARRIORS


1KEVIN LOCKE

21DANE NIELSEN

3NGANI LAUMAPE

4KONRAD HURRELL

5MANU VATUVEI

6THOMAS LEULUAI

7SHAUN JOHNSON

14BEN MATULINO

9NATHAN FRIEND

10RUSSELL PACKER

11FELETI MATEO

12SIMON MANNERING (c)

13TODD LOWRIE

Interchange:

8SAM RAPIRA

17PITA GODINET

18BEN HENRY

20SEBASTINE IKAHIHIFO


HEAD COACH: MATTHEW ELLIOTT