VODAFONE JUNIOR WARRIORS v BRISBANE BRONCOS
Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
5.15pm, Saturday, July 19
Referee: Michael Gordon
The Vodafone Junior Warriors will have to survive without co-captain and key playmaker Mason Lino in tonight’s 19th-round NYC clash against the high-flying Brisbane Broncos at Suncorp Stadium (5.15pm kick-off local time; 7.15pm NZT).
The 54-game veteran is out with a shoulder injury while centre Ken Maumalo is also out after originally being named in the centres.
The twin absences have resulted in a major backline reshuffle.
Semisi Tyrell, named in the centres, now moves into the halves with Ata Hingano while the new centres are Marata Niukore – who had been listed on the bench – and Solomone Kata. After two appearances earlier in the campaign, Kata has been playing regularly for the club’s New South Wales Cup side but travelled to Brisbane as cover for the NRL squad.
Head coach Stacey Jones has also made a change to his starting front row with Paul Tuli coming in for Bunty Afoa, who switches to the bench.
In the Broncos the eighth-placed Vodafone Junior Warriors face one of the NYC’s best-performed sides. While they lost last week, they won their previous four games on end and sit third on the points table; the Vodafone Junior Warriors have lost three of their last four.
FIVE KEY FEATURES
#1 SEMISI TYRELL | Tyrell has made a strong impact in his first four NYC games in the centres, scoring four tries. Now he needs to adapt to a playmaking role working with Ata Hingano in the halves.
#2 ATA HINGANO | While he’s only 17, Hingano tonight becomes the team’s senior playmaker with Mason Lino injured. This will be his 12th appearance and arguably his biggest test since coming into the side.
#3 SAM LISONE | Hard-running Lisone is always critical to the Vodafone Junior Warriors and carries added responsibility tonight leading the side without co-captain Mason Lino there alongside him.
#4 MARATA NIUKORE | In his first two matches against Penrith and Parramatta, Niukore made a big impression. Capable of playing in the centres or the back row, he’s back in the centres tonight.
#5 SOLOMONE KATA | After travelling to Brisbane as cover for the NRL squad, the powerful Kata was released late to turn out for the Vodafone Junior Warriors for just the third time this season.
VODAFONE JUNIOR WARRIORS
1 BRAD ABBEY
2 VILIAMI KAVEINGA
15 MARATA NIUKORE
23 SOLOMONE KATA
5 METIA LISATI
6 MAFOA’AEATA HINGANO
3 SEMISI TYRELL
16 PAUL TULI
9 KURT ROBINSON
10 SAM LISONE (c)
11 ADAM TUIMAVAVE-GERRARD
12 MICHAEL KI
13 JAZZ TEVAGA
8 IULIO AFOA
14 NATHANIEL ROACHE
17 TOAFOFOA SIPLEY
20 KOUMA SAMSON
COACH: STACEY JONES