Ngataua Hukatai is set to make a belated start to his third NYC campaign after being named for his comeback in the Vodafone Junior Warriors’ 11th-round match against Gold Coast at Cbus Super Stadium in Robina on Saturday (3.15pm kick-off local time; 5.15pm kick-off NZT).

Hukatai, who turns 20 in July, has been cleared to return after recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.

As a schoolboy he played First XV rugby union for King’s College and also made the New Zealand Secondary Schools team before signing with the Vodafone Warriors for the 2012 NYC season.

After making 24 appearances and scoring 11 tries in his debut season he backed up with 21 games and another seven tries in 2013 finishing with the NYC grand final against Penrith.

Vodafone Junior Warriors coach Stacey Jones has named Hukatai on the bench. The only change to the starting line-up used against the Bulldogs last Sunday is in the centres where Lafu Feagaiga comes into the centres for David Fusitu’a, who has moved up into the club’s New South Wales Cup side.

Starting again on the wings for the third straight week are Paul Ulberg and John Wesley Tauti who have both made a significant impact – Tauti quite literally – since coming into the side.

Ulberg followed up his double on debut with another brace against the Bulldogs including his side’s final try which levelled the scores up at 30-30 late in the game (only for the Dogs to take it out 31-30 with a field goal). Ulberg also scored the first try of the game and boasted outstanding numbers of 227 metres from 17 runs plus 11 tackle breaks and three line breaks.

On the opposite flank Tauti rocked the stadium with his thunderous first half tackle on Bulldogs fullback Kyle Krisanski-Kennedy. The victim had to be helped off the field with the crunching shot later becoming an instant social media hit on the Vodafone Warriors’ Facebook page. It has so far been viewed by almost 270,000 people and has attracted almost 1700 likes.

 

VODAFONE JUNIOR WARRIORS v GOLD COAST TITANS

Cbus Super Stadium, Robina

3.15pm, Saturday, May 24

 

 

VODAFONE JUNIOR WARRIORS

1 BRAD ABBEY

2 PAUL ULBERG

3 LAFU FEAGAIGA

4 KEN MAUMALO

5 JOHN WESLEY TAUTI

6 MAFOA’AEATA HINGANO

7 MIKAERE BEATTIE

8 IULIO AFOA 

9 KURT ROBINSON

10 KOUMA SAMSON

11 ADAM TUIMAVAVE-GERRARD

12 MATIU LOVE-HENRY

13 JAMES BELL

Interchange:

14 NATHANIEL ROACHE

15 NGATAUA HUKATAI

16 TOAFOFOA SIPLEY

17 ALAMOTI FINAU

20 OFAHIKI OGDEN

COACH: STACEY JONES