Dominique Peyroux and Agnatius Paasi return to New South Wales Cup duty for the Vodafone Warriors’ week two elimination final against Illawarra at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday (6.10pm kick-off local time; 8.10pm NZT).
Peyroux lined up in the centres for the club’s last two NRL regular season games against Gold Coast and Penrith while Paasi was the NRL side’s 18th man against the Panthers last Sunday.
Peyroux is again in the centres against the Cutters while Paasi will start at loose forward with David Bhana, the starting No 13 last week, moving back to the interchange.
The rest of the starting pack is unchanged from the one used in last weekend’s opening finals week win over the Mounties.
With Peyroux in the centres, Carlos Tuimavave, a double try-scorer against the Mounties, switches to standoff replacing the now-unavailable Chad Townsend (Townsend would have been eligible for selection only if the Vodafone Warriors were in NRL finals action this week). Starting on the wing again will be Tangi Ropati, who last week became the 44th player used this season.
Coach Rohan Smith initially named an extended bench of eight.
With the lure of making the competition’s last four – and moving within one win of making the September 28 grand final – the Vodafone Warriors and Illawarra go into Sunday’s encounter at opposite ends of the form spectrum.
The Vodafone Warriors sneaked into the finals in eighth place with a last-day win over North Sydney while the Cutters ended the regular season in fourth spot.
The Vodafone Warriors belied their scratchy run last week by leaping to a 22-0 win and going on to beat the fifth-ranked Mounties 36-28 in their opening finals game (after conceding more than 40 points in each of their regular season losses to the Mounties).
The Cutters were out of sorts against minor premier Penrith as they slumped to a 6-42 loss last weekend, their third defeat on end and their fourth in their last five outings.
When the Vodafone Warriors and Illawarra met in the regular season they drew 12-12 at Eden Park before the Vodafone Warriors triumphed 35-28 at WIN Jubilee Oval.
No player has appeared in each of the Vodafone Warriors’ 25 matches so far this season but captain Steve Waetford has missed only one game while another seven players have featured 20 or more times.
The Vodafone Warriors have reached the finals at their first attempt with their own team in the NSW Cup. They previously joined forces with the Auckland Rugby League-owned Auckland Vulcans, a venture which most notably tasted finals football in 2011 going on to make the grand finals. The Vulcans were eliminated in the opening week of the finals last year.
- Sunday’s match between the Vodafone Warriors and Illawarra will be shown live on SKY Sport 2 at 8.10pm NZT.
ILLAWARRA CUTTERS (4) v VODAFONE WARRIORS (8)
Leichhardt Oval, Sydney
6.10pm, Sunday, September 14
Referee: Adam Cassidy
1 STEVE WAETFORD (c)
2 TANGI ROPATI
3 DOMINIQUE PEYROUX
4 MICHAEL SIO
5 JARROD TUA
6 CARLOS TUIMAVAVE
7 SAM COOK
8 UPU POCHING
9 SILIVA HAVILI
10 SAM LOUSI
11 JOHN PALAVI
12 RAYMOND FAITALA-MARINER
13 AGNATIUS PAASI
14 DAVID BHANA
15 ALBERT VETE
22 DANIEL PALAVI
17 ABRAHAM PAPALII
18 MICHAEL KI
20 ZEBASTIAN LUISI
21 HERMAN RETZLAFF
23 SAULA SOLOMONA
COACH: ROHAN SMITH