Agnatius Paasi has become the Vodafone Warriors' 'Mr Fixit' in the New South Wales Cup. Image | www.photosport.co.nz

NSW CUP PREVIEW | More changes

NORTH SYDNEY BEARS v VODAFONE WARRIORS

North Sydney Oval, Sydney

3.00pm, Saturday, May 24

Referee: Jeff Hartup

 

The challenges of coaching in the New South Wales Cup can be found by having a look at the Vodafone Warriors’ team sheet for today’s 11th-round encounter with the Bears at North Sydney Oval (3.00pm kick-off local time; 5.00pm NZT).

Rohan Smith had a squad listed from 1-17 in Tuesday but circumstances have conspired against him being able to field a side as named today.

He started out expecting to have David Fusitu’a on the wing and Tuimoala Lolohea in the halves for his 11th straight appearance this season but both are now with the NRL squad for today’s clash against the Gold Coast Titans; Fusitu’a is in line to replace an injured Kevin Locke (ankle) while Lolohea trained with the NRL side this week as halfback Shaun Johnson rested a groin complaint.

The upshot is Smith has been forced to replace both players, listing interchange forward Agnatius Paasi on the wing and Northcote’s former Vodafone Junior Warrior Sam Cook in the halves. Paasi has been used in the centres previously this season while Cook will be making his third appearance.

Coming into the side on the bench is back rower David Bhana who appeared in the first seven matches this season but has recently been turning out for the Northcote Tigers in the Fox Memorial.

There’s one other change but only a jersey number with centre Carlos Tuimavave wearing jersey No 23 rather than No 3.

The shuffling provides a further test for Smith and his troops as they seek to back up last week’s 22-18 victory over Manly with another success against South Sydney’s feeder club North Sydney.

The Bears, traditionally among the best-performed sides in the competition, are languishing in 12th position near the foot of the points table at the moment while the Vodafone Warriors are running sixth.

However, they’ll be a positive frame of mind coming off a victory over Newcastle last week.

Due to line up for the Bears today is the much-decorated veteran Lote Tuqiri in the centres along with one of the Burgess brothers – Tom – in the front row. Two other familiar names are former Vodafone Junior Warriors Nathaniel Neale and Neccrom Areaiiti. Neale, a foundation NYC player in 2008, went on to play for the Vulcans in the New South Wales Cup and has joined the Rabbitohs via the Ipswich Jets in the Queensland Cup; he made his NRL debut earlier this season. Areaiiti’s only NRL appearance so far was for South Sydney against the Vodafone Warriors in 2012. A member of the NYC premiership-winning Vodafone Junior Warriors in 2010, he spent the 2013 season with Penrith without making a first-grade appearance.

FIVE KEY FEATURES

#1 SAM COOK | After just two previous NSW Cup appearances this season, Cook has the task today of directing the Vodafone Warriors in tandem with his former Vodafone Junior Warriors team-mate Mason Lino.

#2 AGNATIUS PAASI | ‘Iggy’ scored what turned out to be the match-winning try against Manly last week. He has been used in various roles in the side but now finds himself named to play on the wing.

#3 DAVID BHANA | Bhana has been playing for his club side Northcote in the Fox Memorial championship in recent weeks after seven straight NSW Cup outings. This is his chance to regain a spot on a long-term basis.

#4 CHARLES P GUBB | The day after his 24th birthday the Wellington College product was on 18th man duty for the club’s NRL side. Now he drops back to ensure he has some much-needed game time.

#5 UPU POCHING | A one-game NRL player with the Vodafone Warriors in 2010, Upu could be termed a New South Wales Cup veteran having previously been a regular with the Vulcans.

 

VODAFONE WARRIORS

1        STEVE WAETFORD (c)

15       AGNATIUS PAASI

23       CARLOS TUIMAVAVE

4        SOLOMONE KATA

5        JARRED WILSON

22       SAM COOK

7        MASON LINO

8        CHARLES P GUBB

9        MICHAEL SIO

10       UPU POCHING

11       DOMINIQUE PEYROUX

12       RAYMOND FAITALA-MARINER

13       JOHN PALAVI

Interchange:

14       ABRAHAM PAPALII

16       SAM LISONE

17       MICHAEL KI

24       DAVID BHANA

COACH: ROHAN SMITH

 

COVERAGE

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