Dominique Peyroux returns to NRL football for just the third time this season for the Vodafone Warriors’ 25th-round clash against his former club Gold Coast at Mount Smart Stadium on Sunday (4.00pm kick-off; match day sponsor: Vodafone).
In his first outing in more than four months, the 25-year-old Peyroux has been named to start in the centres, coming into the side following the shoulder injury which forced rookie winger David Fusitu’a off the field in the opening minutes of last Sunday’s loss to the Sydney Roosters.
Ngani Laumape starts on the right wing, where he played most of the match against the Roosters after originally being selected in the centres.
In one other change to the starting line-up, Sione Lousi has been named at loose forward with Sebastine Ikahihifo included on the bench.
Returning on the interchange is veteran prop Sam Rapira, who turned out for the club’s New South Wales Cup side in its dramatic 28-30 loss to Newtown last Sunday. He replaces Feleti Mateo who will play in the NSW Cup against North Sydney on Sunday.
After making 14 appearances last season, Peyroux’s previous games this year were against Canterbury-Bankstown (bench) at Eden Park and the following week against St George Illawarra when he was in the second row.
Used 16 times for the NSW Cup side, the Cook Islands international has been with the NRL squad the last two weeks following injuries to Konrad Hurrell, Dane Nielsen and Tuimoala Lolohea; he was 18th man against the Roosters.
“Dom’s been great working with the squad giving us cover in the outside backs for the last couple of weeks,” he said.
“He has kept pushing for an opportunity through his efforts for our New South Wales Cup side and he’ll do a good job for us.
“The decision to start Sione is the way we want to go with this game.”
Peyroux played 16 times for the Titans in 2011-2012 before linking with the Vodafone Warriors last season.
He was in two losing Gold Coast sides in matches against the Vodafone Warriors but experienced victory for his new club against his old one in Robina last August.
He becomes the 11th different player the Vodafone Warriors have used as a starting centre or wing. The team’s top try scorer Manu Vatuvei has been the most durable, missing just one of the side’s 22 games this season while Hurrell, Nielsen, Fusitu’a, Lolohea, Glen Fisiiahi and the now-retired Jerome Ropati have all been hit by injuries.
The Vodafone Warriors go into the second to last round of the regular season out of the top eight, now 10th and needing to beat both Gold Coast and Penrith to have any chance of being in top eight contention.
“We simply have to win both games and then hope for a few things to go our way,” said McFadden.
Five players will maintain a perfect record of playing all 23 matches so far this season this week – Sam Tomkins, Nathan Friend, Jacob Lillyman, Simon Mannering and Suaia Matagi.
McFadden said the team was buoyed by this Sunday also marking old boys’ day with a strong crew of former players set to be on hand.
VODAFONE WARRIORS v GOLD COAST TITANS
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
4.00pm, Sunday, August 31
1 SAM TOMKINS
2 NGANI LAUMAPE
3 KONRAD HURRELL
4 DOMINIQUE PEYROUX
5 MANU VATUVEI
6 THOMAS LEULUAI
7 SHAUN JOHNSON
8 JACOB LILLYMAN
9 NATHAN FRIEND
10 BEN MATULINO
11 BEN HENRY
12 SIMON MANNERING (c)
13 SIONE LOUSI
14 SAM RAPIRA
15 SUAIA MATAGI
16 SEBASTINE IKAHIHIFO
17 JAYSON BUKUYA
18 JOHN PALAVI
HEAD COACH: ANDREW McFADDEN