Wing Jonathan Wright will make his 100th career appearance and Dominique Peyroux will start in the centres for the suspended Konrad Hurrell in the Vodafone Warriors’ 10th-round NRL encounter with Parramatta at Pirtek Stadium on Saturday (3.00pm kick-off local time; 5.00pm NZT).
Called onto the bench for his 43rd NRL appearance and his first this season is utility forward Sione Lousi while record try scorer Manu Vatuvei has been named on the left wing in the hope he might recover from the sternum injury which forced him off the field in last Saturday night’s clash against Cronulla.
The rest of the side is unchanged from the line-up which beat the Sharks 20-16 with the same starting pack named for the ninth consecutive match this season.
Hurrell is unavailable for the next three games after the Vodafone Warriors decided not to contest the grade three dangerous contact offence he was charged with after his collision with Cronulla forward Anthony Tupou on Saturday night. His absence has opened the way for utility Peyroux to come into the centres on the right edge.
“Dom has been doing a job for us on the bench and has worked for an opportunity like this,” said Vodafone Warriors assistant coach Andrew Webster.
“We’re not going to have Konrad for a few weeks now so this is a big chance for Dom.
“With Dom going into the centres Sione comes onto the bench and gives us some versatility. He has been playing on the edge for our New South Wales Cup side and also covers front row so that gives us options.
“We’re still hoping Manu can come through. He’s a lot better today and he certainly knows his body really well. He’s working hard with the medical team and will be given every chance.”
On the milestone front, Saturday’s match is of special personal significance for the 28-year-old Wright and also for the club as it marks its 500th game in what is its 20th anniversary season.
In his 99th appearance last week Wright had the satisfaction of scoring a try – his third in as many weeks – and celebrating victory against his previous club. Now he is preparing for his 100th at his original NRL club, having made his debut for the Eels in 2009. After two seasons with Parramatta he had two with Canterbury-Bankstown in 2011-2012 (appearing in the 2012 grand final) and then two seasons with Cronulla in 2013 and 2014.
Milestones are also in view for prop Jacob Lillyman, who is five short of his 200th career game, while second rower Bodene Thompson makes his 95th appearance this week and halfback Shaun Johnson his 93rd. With his remarkable match-winning try and two goals against Cronulla Johnson is now only 25 points short of reaching 500 in his career.
The Vodafone Warriors climbed into the top eight with their fourth win of the season last week – their second away victory – and sit eighth on eight points. The Eels are only two points back but lie 15th on the ladder having lost their last two matches 10-28 to the Storm and 16-28 to the Broncos. Just two points covers the 10 teams from seventh (the Roosters) to last (Manly).
The Vodafone Warriors have a bye in the 11th round before facing Newcastle on May 31 in their first match at Mount Smart Stadium in more than a month (4.00pm kick-off; match day sponsor: TNT).
PARRAMATTA EELS v VODAFONE WARRIORS
Pirtek Stadium, Parramatta
3.00pm, Saturday, May 16
Referees: Grant Atkins and Gavin Reynolds.
1 TUIMOALA LOLOHEA
2 JONATHAN WRIGHT
3 DOMINIQUE PEYROUX
4 SOLOMONE KATA
5 MANU VATUVEI
6 CHAD TOWNSEND
7 SHAUN JOHNSON
8 JACOB LILLYMAN
9 THOMAS LEULUAI
10 BEN MATULINO
11 BODENE THOMPSON
12 RYAN HOFFMAN
13 SIMON MANNERING (c)
14 NATHAN FRIEND
15 SIONE LOUSI
16 SAM LISONE
17 ALBERT VETE
18 RAYMOND FAITALA-MARINER
HEAD COACH: ANDREW McFADDEN