VODAFONE WARRIORS v PARRAMATTA EELS
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
7.30pm, Saturday, July 12
Referees: Gavin Badger and Henry Perenara
Monster Vodafone Warriors forward Sam Lousi will make his first NRL appearance in almost two years and just the third of his career after being called up for tonight’s 18th-round encounter with Parramatta at Mount Smart Stadium (7.30pm kick-off; match day sponsor: TNT).
The 22-year-old’s only two previous NRL outings were against Manly and Newcastle in July 2012.
Injuries have interrupted his progress. Since his return from his latest injury setback he has made three appearances for the club’s New South Wales Cup side; he was originally named to start in the front row with his older brother Sione in today’s NSW Cup clash against Wentworthville.
He comes onto the NRL team’s interchange due to regular starting second rower Jayson Bukuya (foot) being ruled out. His absence sees Ben Henry starting in the right edge second rower’s role.
FIVE KEY FEATURES
#1 KONRAD HURRELL | It’s a special milestone night for the blockbusting centre as he lines up for his 50th career appearance with his mother and father among the crowd. He goes into the match with 33 tries in 49 games.
#2 SAM LOUSI | For Sam Lousi, tonight’s match will feel like his NRL career is starting all over again. His 2013 season was severely disrupted by injury and he has also had two setbacks this year but now the giant is ready to roll again.
#3 MANU VATUVEI | The big man now has the distinction of being only the second player in the competition’s history to score 10 or more tries in nine straight seasons (Ken Irviine is the only other one). Hopefully he adds to his career tally of 128 tonight.
#4 JACOB LILLYMAN | In what has been an outstanding season, ‘Bull’ fronts up after playing a key role in Queensland’s Origin III win over New South Wales on Wednesday night. He’s sure to deliver a lot of quality metres again.
#BEN HENRY | Henry’s value has been underlined time and time again this year. With Jayson Bukuya ruled out, he now takes over in the second row as he continues to show his wherewithal despite injury setbacks.
1 SAM TOMKINS
2 DAVID FUSITU’A
3 KONRAD HURRELL
4 DANE NIELSEN
5 MANU VATUVEI
6 CHAD TOWNSEND
7 SHAUN JOHNSON
8 JACOB LILLYMAN
9 NATHAN FRIEND
10 SUAIA MATAGI
17 BEN HENRY
12 SIMON MANNERING (c)
13 SEBASTINE IKAHIHIFO
14 FELETI MATEO
15 BEN MATULINO
16 CHARLES GUBB
20 SAM LOUSI
HEAD COACH: ANDREW McFADDEN
BETTING – WWW.TAB.CO.NZ
Head to head | Vodafone Warriors $1.25, Parramatta $3.70
SKY SPORT 2: Live at 7.30pm.