Utility Ben Henry and prop Charles Gubb have been recalled for the Vodafone Warriors’ 15th-round NRL clash against the Brisbane Broncos at Mount Smart Stadium on Saturday (7.30pm kick-off; match day sponsor: flava).
In the second of eight home games at Mount Smart, the Vodafone Warriors will again stage a triple header, this one kicking off with the NYC fixture between the two clubs at 3.10pm followed by the Vodafone Warriors facing the Wyong Roos in the New South Wales Cup at 5.10pm.
Henry has missed the last two games against Newcastle and South Sydney with a knee complaint while Gubb plays his third match this year after last appearing in the seventh-round encounter with St George Illawarra in April.
He had his 10th game of the season for the club’s NSW Cup side in last Saturday’s 16-12 win against Cronulla in Gisborne while the previous week he travelled to Perth with the NRL squad but didn’t play.
With Ben Matulino sidelined after minor knee surgery, captain Simon Mannering moves to the second row and Sebastine Ikahihifo starts at loose forward in his 10th consecutive appearance this season.
Head coach Andrew McFadden has brought Sam Rapira into the starting front row with Suaia Matagi shifting to the bench alongside Henry, Gubb and Feleti Mateo. It means hooker Siliva Havili will again line up for the NSW Cup side.
“It’s disappointing losing Ben Matulino but a real positive having Ben Henry back at the same time. His versatility gives us options on the bench,” said McFadden.
“There’s also encouraging news about Ben Matulino. His surgery on his (right) knee went well last week and we’re now expecting him back against Parramatta. With another bye to come it means he would miss only two games all up.”
Saturday’s triple header is the first of three consecutive home games for the Vodafone Warriors with the Penrith Panthers being hosted on Sunday, June 29 (4.00pm kick-off) and the Parramatta Eels on Saturday, June 12 (7.30pm). Splitting those two games is the Vodafone Warriors’ second bye.
To mark the two games in the space of eight days against Brisbane and Penrith the Vodafone Warriors are promoting a special offer to see both matches for just $30.
Brisbane is fifth on 18 points coming into the contest while the Vodafone Warriors are 11th on 14 points, just two points off eighth spot. In their last four outings the Broncos have beaten Gold Coast (home), Wests Tigers (away), Manly (home) and Canberra (away); they’re also coming off a bye last weekend.
The Vodafone Warriors did the home and away double against Brisbane last year, winning 56-18 at Suncorp Stadium and then 18-16 four weeks later in Auckland.
There’s again only four weeks between this year’s home and away clashes with the two sides meeting in Brisbane again on July 19.
The Vodafone Warriors have won each of the last three matches against the Broncos at Mount Smart and have taken out five of the last six against them at the venue.
VODAFONE WARRIORS v BRISBANE BRONCOS
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
7.30pm, Saturday, June 21
1 SAM TOMKINS
2 DAVID FUSITU’A
3 KONRAD HURRELL
4 NGANI LAUMAPE
5 MANU VATUVEI
6 CHAD TOWNSEND
7 SHAUN JOHNSON
8 JACOB LILLYMAN
9 NATHAN FRIEND
10 SAM RAPIRA
11 JAYSON BUKUYA
12 SIMON MANNERING (c)
13 SEBASTINE IKAHIHIFO
14 FELETI MATEO
15 SUAIA MATAGI
16 CHARLES GUBB
17 BEN HENRY
HEAD COACH: ANDREW McFADDEN