Vodafone Junior Warriors coach Stacey Jones has again been able to call on several of his most-experienced players for Saturday’s NYC elimination play-off against the Sydney Roosters at Allianz Stadium (3.00pm kick-off local time; 5.00pm NZT).
Throughout the 2014 campaign a number of NYC-eligible players have spent time playing in the New South Wales Cup while David Fusitu’a and Tuimoala Lolohea have also made their NRL debuts as the club seeks to develop its players of the future.
Lolohea had appeared in just one NYC regular season match before returning for the Vodafone Junior Warriors’ top eight-clinching clash against Penrith last Sunday.
As well as his three NRL appearances this year, Lolohea has turned out for the New South Wales Cup side 14 times. A try-scorer in last weekend’s 18-18 draw with the Panthers, Lolohea again teams up with co-captain Mason Lino in the halves this week.
Solomone Kata is in the centres for only the sixth time this season after being used at NSW Cup level in 13 games.
Starting on the wing in just his sixth NYC match this year is Ngataua Hukatai who last week became the 11th member of the Vodafone Junior Warriors’ 50-game club. Having featured in NSW Cup football nine times this year, Hukatai marked his milestone game with his side’s vital last-gasp try which Lino converted brilliantly from wide out.
Others with NSW Cup experience in this week's line-up are Lino, co-captain Sam Lisone, centre Ken Maumalo and winger Metia Lisati.
Fullback Brad Abbey, the team’s top try-scorer with 14 so far, will extend his record of being the only player to appear in each of the Vodafone Junior Warriors’ 24 matches so far this season. He was again prominent against the Roosters, making 156 metres from 13 runs including six tackle breaks.
The Vodafone Junior Warriors’ back five all made notable contributions with Hukatai gaining 160 metres from 14 runs, Maumalo 148 from 12, Kata 116 from 15 and Lisati 83 from 12 while Lolohea made 99 metres.
Up front Lisone carried the ball 16 times for 152 metres and interchange front rower Toafofoa Sipley made 157 metres from 13 runs.
In a tough defensive contest loose forward Jazz Tevaga made 48 tackles and second rower Adam Tuimavave-Gerrrard 43.
With another three goals against Penrith, Lino lifted his season’s tally to 172 points from 10 tries and 66 goals; he also brought up his 200th NYC goal to take his career total to 463 points.
The effects of injuries and developing players has resulted in Jones using 39 players in 24 NYC matches this year, 20 of them making their NYC debuts.
VODAFONE JUNIOR WARRIORS v SYDNEY ROOSTERS
Allianz Stadium, Sydney
3.00pm, Sunday, September 13
Referees: Jon Stone and Lawrence McDonnell
VODAFONE JUNIOR WARRIORS
1 BRAD ABBEY
2 NGATAUA HUKATAI
3 KEN MAUMALO
4 SOLOMONE KATA
5 METIA LISATI
6 TUIMOALA LOLOHEA
7 MASON LINO (c)
8 SAM LISONE (c)
9 KURT ROBINSON
10 KOUMA SAMSON
11 MARATA NIUKORE
12 ADAM TUIMAVAVE-GERRARD
13 JAZZ TEVAGA
14 OFAHIKI OGDEN
15 TOAFOFOA SIPLEY
16 NATHANIEL ROACHE
17 IULIO AFOA
18 JAMES BELL
COACH: STACEY JONES