NRL UPDATE: Titans v Vodafone Warriors

Vodafone Warriors centre Dane Nielsen lasted only 12 minutes of last week's clash against Penrith but has recovered from his ankle injury to take his place against Gold Coast tonight. Photo: Photosport


The Vodafone Warriors will take the field as named for tonights crucial 24th-round NRL clash against the Gold Coast Titans at Skilled Park in Robina (5.30pm kick-off local time; 7.30pm NZT).


Centre Dane Nielsen had been in some doubt with an ankle complaint earlier in the week but he came through yesterdays final run at Pizzey Park on the Gold Coast to confirm his place for the third-to-last match of the regular season.


Playing his first NRL game in more than three months is 28-year-old 140-game veteran Jerome Ropati selected on the right wing while rookie Suaia Matagi will start at prop as named.


Captain Simon Mannering moves into outright third spot tonight on the Vodafone Warriors all-time list of appearances playing his 186th NRL match; only Logan Swann (195) and Stacey Jones (261) are ahead of him.


Prop Sam Rapira is lining up for the 149th appearance leaving him set for his 150th at home against the Raiders next Saturday night while fellow front rower Jacob Lillyman is playing his 98th game for the club tonight to remain on track to join the Vodafone Warriors 100-game club in the final regular season match against St George Illawarra in Wollongong on September 7.


Ropatis last NRL outing was coincidentally the eighth-round match against the Titans at Mount Smart Stadium on May 5 when the Vodafone Warriors won 25-24, their fifth consecutive win against Gold Coast.


It was only his second match back at NRL level this year after returning from knee surgery only to be sidelined by a hamstring complaint.


Ropati initially made his way back with the Auckland Vulcans in the New South Wales Cup before being brought back into the NRL game day squad for the Cronulla encounter; he was the teams 18th man for the last three games.


After being promoted from the bench to start on game day last week, Matagi was selected in the run-on side for his ninth outing while the back row combination has been altered. Elijah Taylor moves from loose forward to start in the second row, Todd Lowrie will wear the No 13 jersey and Feleti Mateo is on the interchange alongside Ben Matulino, Jacob Lillyman and Dominique Peyroux. Ngani Laumape is 18th man.


The Vodafone Warriors go into the contest on 22 points, still only two outside the top eight. The Titans hold that eighth spot at the moment level with the ninth-placed Canberra Raiders, the Vodafone Warriors next opponents at home on Saturday, August 31 (5.00pm kick-off; match day sponsor: Vodafone).

Newcastle is seventh on 25 points with Brisbane 10th on 23 followed by North Queensland, Penrith and the Vodafone Warriors all on 22.


VODAFONE WARRIORS v GOLD COAST TITANS


Skilled Park, Robina

5.30pm, Saturday, August 24

Referees: Gerard Sutton and Jared Maxwell


VODAFONE WARRIORS


1KEVIN LOCKE

2JEROME ROPATI

3DANE NIELSEN

4KONRAD HURRELL

5MANU VATUVEI

6THOMAS LEULUAI

7SHAUN JOHNSON

8SAM RAPIRA

9NATHAN FRIEND

10SUAIA MATAGI

11ELIJAH TAYLOR

12SIMON MANNERING (c)

13TODD LOWRIE

Interchange:

14BEN MATULINO

15JACOB LILLYMAN

16FELETI MATEO

17DOMINIQUE PEYROUX


HEAD COACH: MATTHEW ELLIOTT