Wing Viliami Kaveinga is out of the Vodafone Warriors’ seventh-round New South Wales Cup game against Penrith at Pepper Stadium today (3.00pm kick-off local time; 5.00pm NZT).
Kaveinga, who started the season at fullback, had been named on the wing with Glen Fisiiahi coming in at fullback in his first appearance in more than a year after being sidelined with a shoulder complaint.
Replacing Kaveinga is Marist’s Simon Luafalealo, who made his New South Wales Cup debut for the club at fullback against North Sydney three weeks ago.
The Vodafone Warriors will field a line-up featuring 10 players with NRL experience including all six players in the starting pack.
The focus will be very much on Fisiiahi in his comeback match.
He made a sizzling start to 2014 with seven tries in the first four rounds of the season but his fifth outing against Cronulla on April 5 was to be his last of the season.
A shoulder injury – which later required surgery – sidelined him for the rest of the campaign.
Now he is set to join the club’s 2014 Vodafone NRL rookie of the year David Fusitu’a who made a try-scoring return from shoulder surgery against Wests Tigers last Saturday.
Back in the starting pack is Sebastine Ikahihifo after being the NRL side’s 18th man against the Tigers; regular NSW Cup second rower Raymond Faitala-Mariner has travelled to Townsville as 18th man this week.
The Vodafone Warriors recovered well from their heavy loss to Wyong by beating Wests Tigers 28-16 last Saturday, a result which pushed them up to fifth on the ladder, one of four teams on eight points with only the unbeaten Mounties ahead of them.
The Stacey Jones-coached side fed off some outstanding individual contributions. Prop Suaia Matagi backed up his 150 metres from 14 runs with 25 tackles while veteran front rower Sam Rapira made 99 metres from just eight high-quality runs as well as making 27 tackles. Faitala-Mariner had stats of 124 metres from 14 carries plus a game-high 38 tackles.
The Panthers will provide another challenge. They’re running fourth on the table.
PENRITH PANTHERS v VODAFONE WARRIORS
Pepper Stadium, Penrith
3.00pm, Saturday, April 18
Referee: Damian Briscoe
1 GLEN FISIIAHI
2 KEN MAUMALO
3 JARROD TUA
4 DAVID FUSITU’A
18 SIMON LUAFALEALO
6 API PEWHAIRANGI
7 SAM COOK
8 SUAIA MATAGI
9 SILIVA HAVILI
10 SAM RAPIRA
11 SIONE LOUSI
12 JOHN PALAVI (c)
13 SEBASTINE IKAHIHIFO
14 DAVID BHANA
15 CHARLIE GUBB
16 NATHANIEL PETERU
17 JAMES BELL
COACH: STACEY JONES