Second rower Jayson Bukuya has again been ruled out with a foot injury for the Vodafone Warriors’ seventh-round NRL clash against St George Illawarra at WIN Jubilee Oval tonight (5.30pm kick-off local time; 7.30pm NZT).
As had been the case for the Canterbury-Bankstown clash, Bukuya was again in the originally-named side on Tuesday and took part in Wednesday’s field session but will sit out a second straight game.
While he hasn’t been cleared back rower Sebastine Ikahihifo has and he’ll start at loose forward as he did against the Bulldogs.
Ikahihifo left the field in the 34th minute after a head knock and wasn’t able to return but tests during the week were all clear enabling him to train with the side on Wednesday and line-up tonight. His return results in captain Simon Mannering reverting to the second row in a side which is otherwise the same as selected.
This match will be only the second time the Vodafone Warriors have played St George Illawarra at WIN Jubilee Oval. The first was in 2003 when they beat the Dragons 30-20, the only time they have beaten the franchise in 11 matches on Australian soil since they were introduced to the competition. The other 10 games have all been played in Wollongong.
ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS v VODAFONE WARRIORS
WIN Jubilee Oval, Kogarah
7.30pm (local time), Saturday, April 19
Referees: Jared Maxwell and Chris James
SIX KEY FEATURES
#1 WIN JUBILEE OVAL | The last 10 encounters between the Vodafone Warriors and the Dragons have all been played in Wollongong, the home side winning the lot. The only previous time they’ve met at Kogarah, the Vodafone Warriors won in 2003.
#2 SEBASTINE IKAHIHIFO | Ikahihifo returns from a head knock knowing he’ll be needed for a big contribution in the middle if the Vodafone Warriors are to be in the contest against this toughest opponents in the NRL.
#3 BEN HENRY | Only a few weeks after fearing his season might again be over the valuable utility is back. He has recovered quickly from a knee cartilage injury to snare a spot on the bench; he will provide cover for the centres as well.
#4 JACOB LILLYMAN | The former Queensland State of Origin representative is in vintage form. After last week’s devastating one-point loss to the Bulldogs he was named the players’ player of the day for the third time this season.
#5 SAM RAPIRA | Along with Lillyman, Rapira will carry plenty of responsibility for getting his side forward every time, especially with the experienced Ben Matulino on the sideline for two games serving a suspension.
1 SAM TOMKINS
2 DAVID FUSITUA
3 DANE NIELSEN
4 NGANI LAUMAPE
5 MANU VATUVEI
6 THOMAS LEULUAI
7 SHAUN JOHNSON
8 SAM RAPIRA
9 NATHAN FRIEND
10 JACOB LILLYMAN
11 DOMINIQUE PEYROUX
13 SIMON MANNERING (c)
20 SEBASTINE IKAHIHIFO
14 SILIVA HAVILI
15 SUAIA MATAGI
16 CHARLIE GUBB
17 BEN HENRY
HEAD COACH: ANDREW McFADDEN
BETTING – WWW.TAB.CO.NZ
Head to head:
Vodafone Warriors $2.15, Dragons $1.65
SKY SPORT 2: Live at 7.30pm.