Four players are in line to play for the Vodafone Warriors’ New South Wales Cup side for the first time in Saturday’s ninth-round clash against the Penrith Panthers at Sportingbet Stadium (1.00pm kick-off local time; 3.00pm NZT).

The experienced Dane Nielsen will start in the centres, former Vodafone Junior Warriors utility Sam Cook is named at hooker and current Vodafone Junior Warriors Solomone Kata and Brad Abbey are included on an extended bench.

Their inclusion will lift the number of players used this season to 36 if all four make it onto the field.

While injuries and NRL selection needs have resulted in coach Rohan Smith using 32 players in the first seven matches played the Vodafone Warriors have been one of the best-performed sides in the New South Wales Cup competition. They have won their last four games straight and now sit fourth on the table.

A knock-on effect of the high player rotation rate is that halfback Tuimoala Lolohea will this weekend have the distinction of being the only player to appear in each of the team’s first eight matches of the season (due to Sio’s absence for this match).

Of the combination used in last Saturday’s 48-12 win over Newtown, Smith has lost both centres Dominique Peyroux and Carlos Tuimavave as well as hooker Michael Sio. They’re all in the Toa Samoa side to face, Peyroux and Sio both named on Sunday while Tuimavave was called in as a replacement today.

With Peyroux and Tuimavave missing, Nielsen will start in the centres with regular second rower Raymond Faitala-Mariner. Cook, who made 10 NYC appearances last year, replaces Sio.

Returning on the bench from injury is prop Albert Vete.

 

VODAFONE WARRIORS v PENRITH PANTHERS

Sportingbet Stadium, Penrith 

1.00pm, Saturday, May 3

 

VODAFONE WARRIORS

1 KEVIN LOCKE

2 BRAXTON STANLEY

3 DANE NIELSEN

4 RAYMOND FAITALA-MARINER

5 JARROD TUA

6 STEVE WAETFORD (c)

7 TUIMOALA LOLOHEA

8 NATHANIEL PETERU

9 SAM COOK

10 CHARLIE GUBB

11 JOHN PALAVI

12 AGNATIUS PAASI

13 SIONE LOUSI

Interchange:

14 UPU POCHING

15 ALBERT VETE

16 SOLOMONE KATA

17 DAVID BHANA

18 BRADLEY ABBEY

COACH: ROHAN SMITH