Two more players are in line for their NYC debuts when the Vodafone Junior Warriors face Canberra in Sunday’s 21st-round clash at GIO Stadium (11.45am kick-off local time; 1.45pm NZT).
Coach Stacey Jones has named Mattais Heimuli (17) and Joseph Price (18) on a five-man interchange alongside James Bell, Toafofoa Sipley and Michael Ki.
Mount Albert Grammar School student Heimuli plays for the Glenora Bears in Auckland’s Fox Memorial championship; on Wednesday he captained Mount Grammar in its 12-16 loss to Kelston Boys’ High School in the College Rugby League First XIII Competition semi-finals.
Like Heimuli, Price is in the Vodafone Warriors’ development system. Now for the Mangere East Hawks in the Fox Memorial, he captained Otahuhu College in the CRL last year.
While the two young players come into the side for the Canberra trip, Jones has made two changes to his starting backline.
Paul Ulberg replaces the injured Viliami Kaveinga on the left wing and Nathaniel Roache is listed to start in the centres ahead of Lafu Feagaiga. Ulberg scored four tries in seven appearances earlier in the season while utility Roache plays his 15th game.
In naming his starting forwards, Jones has listed Ken Maumalo and Ofahiki Ogden in the second row. They’re in for Michael Ki (on the bench) and Adam Tuimavave-Gerrard, who is on bereavement leave after his grandmother passed away last week.
The Vodafone Junior Warriors had been in the top eight for most of the season but slipped to ninth on 22 points after last week’s unexpected 20-36 loss to Manly. They’ve had two wins and two losses in their last four games.
The Raiders lie 12th on 16 points after losing each of their last four matches.
Like their NRL counterparts, the Vodafone Junior Warriors are seeking to break a record showing limited success in Canberra; four previous visits have produced three defeats and a 22-22 draw last year.
VODAFONE JUNIOR WARRIORS v CANBERRA RAIDERS
GIO Stadium, Canberra
11.45am, Sunday, August 03
Referees: Chris Sutton and Kasey Badger
VODAFONE JUNIOR WARRIORS
1 BRAD ABBEY
2 PAUL ULBERG
3 NATHANIEL ROACHE
4 MARATA NIUKORE
5 METIA LISATI
6 MAFOA’AEATA HINGANO
7 SEMISI TYRELL
8 IULIO AFOA
9 KURT ROBINSON
10 SAM LISONE (c)
11 KEN MAUMALO
12 OFAHIKI OGDEN
13 JAZZ TEVAGA
15 JAMES BELL
16 TOAFOFOA SIPLEY
17 MATTAIS HEIMULI
18 JOSEPH PRICE
25 KOUMA SAMSON
COACH: STACEY JONES