Vodafone Junior Warriors coach Stacey Jones has experienced NYC players Solomone Kata and Ngataua Hukati at his disposal for Sunday’s 25th-round encounter with the Gold Coast Titans at Mount Smart Stadium (1.45pm kick-off; match day sponsor: Vodafone).
They’ve been turning out for the club’s New South Wales Cup recently, Kata making his 13th appearance in the competition last weekend while Hukatai, who started the season late following an injury lay-off, has played nine times at the higher level this year.
The match is the second in the club’s home season finale tripleheader preceded by the Vodafone Warriors taking on North Sydney in the New South Wales Cup (11.40am kick-off) and followed by the NRL clash against the Titans(4.00pm). It’s also the club’s traditional old boys’ day with more than 25 former players in line to be involved in the day’s festivities.
Kata and Hukatai have previously appeared in just three NYC games this season.
The call-up will take Hukatai’s NYC career tally to 49 leaving him set to become the 11th player to make 50 appearances for the Vodafone Junior Warriors in their final regular season clash against Penrith on Sunday week.
Kata has 12 tries in 20 NYC career appearances while he also represented the club at this year's inaugural Dick Smith NRL Nines.
They’ll line up in a side including three other players with NSW Cup experience this year in co-captains Mason Lino and Sam Lisone as well as centre-second rower Ken Maumalo.
After being in the NYC’s top eight for much of the season, the Vodafone Junior Warriors slipped to ninth following their gut-wrenching 18-20 loss to the Sydney Roosters last Sunday.
They’re now in a must-win position for each of their last two matches which pit them against the 14th-placed Titans and the seventh-placed Panthers.
The top six teams in the competition are clear on 33 points or more while the Vodafone Junior Warriors are in a five-way fight for the last two spots in the finals.
Going into this week’s round Penrith and Melbourne are on 28, the Vodafone Junior Warriors and South Sydney on 26 and Manly on 25.
VODAFONE JUNIOR WARRIORS v GOLD COAST TITANS
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
1.45Pm, Sunday, August 31
Referees: Jon Stone and Peter Gough
VODAFONE JUNIOR WARRIORS
1 BRAD ABBEY
2 PAUL ULBERG
3 NGATAUA HUKATAI
4 SOLOMONE KATA
5 METIA LISATI
6 SEMISI TYRELL
7 MASON LINO (c)
8 SAM LISONE (c)
9 KURT ROBINSON
10 KOUMA SAMSON
11 KEN MAUMALO
12 ADAM TUIMAVAVE-GERRARD
13 JAZZ TEVAGA
14 OFAHIKI OGDEN
15 TOAFOFOA SIPLEY
22 NATHANIEL ROACHE
17 MARATA NIUKORE
18 MIKAERE BEATTIE
20 ROMAN TUHIMATA
COACH: STACEY JONES