Last week Vodafone Junior Warriors winger Metia Lisati made an ill-fated New South Wales Cup debut and today his NYC team-mate Braxton Stanley has been given his first start in the Vodafone Warriors’ seventh-round clash against the Illawarra Cutters at WIN Jubilee Oval in Sydney (3.10pm kick-off local time; 5.10pm NZT).
Lisati is now sidelined after collecting an ankle injury in last week’s 18-14 victory over Canterbury-Bankstown.
And also ruled out is regular winger Jarred Wilson, who was originally named in the side.
Coach Rohan Smith has made two changes to his starting forwards, Albert Vete to start at prop for Upu Poching and Raymond Faitala-Mariner called into the second row with David Bhana going onto the bench.
The Vodafone Warriors will seek their third straight win after beating Cronulla 44-6 two weeks and then the Bulldogs last Sunday.
Today’s match is notable for the inclusion of a number of NRL players. Kevin Locke is at fullback for his first match of the year while Feleti Mateo and Chad Townsend are again in the line-up along with centre Konrad Hurrell who has been moved into the New South Wales Cup side to focus on lifting his effort levels in defence. Back in the side from injury is Carlos Tuimavave.
In another change Steve Waetford is ruled out with concussion. Tuimoala Lolohea starts at halfback.
When the two teams met at Eden Park in March they played out a 12-12 draw,
ILLAWARRA CUTTERS v VODAFONE WARRIORS
WIN Jubilee Oval, Kogarah
3.10pm (local time), Saturday, April 19
Referee: Adam Cassidy
FIVE KEY FEATURES
#1 KEVIN LOCKE | The Kiwi fullback makes a late start to the 2014 season after being sidelined with a knee injury picked up during the Rugby League World Cup. The 87-game NRL player has been back in full training for the past fortnight.
#2 KONRAD HURRELL | His selection in the New South Wales Cup side has been the most talked-about issue this week. Vodafone Warriors head coach Andrew McFadden has told Hurrell he needs to lift his effort levels in defence.
#3 BRAXTON STANLEY | With Jarred Wilson and Metia Lisati both injured, All Black great Joe Stanley’s nephew comes out of the Vodafone Junior Warriors to make his New South Wales Cup debut on the wing today.
#4 FELETI MATEO | A heavy injury toll meant Mateo was pushed into a playmaking role against the Bulldogs, responding with a key hand in the side’s three tries. He’ll expect to be called on for more of the heavy work today.
#5 SAM LOUSI | Like Mateo, Lousi’s involvement in his comeback match last week was affected by the side’s injury list. He came through his first run well after a long lay-off and will be looking to build on it against the Cutters.
1 KEVIN LOCKE
25 BRAXTON STANLEY
3 KONRAD HURRELL
4 CARLOS TUIMAVAVE
5 JARROD TUA
6 CHAD TOWNSEND
22 TUIMOALA LOLOHEA
8 NATHANIEL PETERU
9 MICHAEL SIO
15 ALBERT VETE
11 JOHN PALAVI
17 RAYMOND FAITALA-MARINER
13 FELETI MATEO
12 DAVID BHANA
14 AGNATIUS PAASI
16 SAM LOUSI
20 ABRAHAM PAPALII
COACH: ROHAN SMITH
Live on SKY Sport 2, 5.10pm.