While the established Marata Niukore and Semisi Tyrell are back this week two of the Vodafone Junior Warriors’ first-choice players – Toafofoa Sipley and Paul Ulberg – have been promoted to the club’s New South Wales Cup side.
Niukore is named in the second row with Tyrell returning after appearing for the Vodafone Warriors in the New South Wales Cup in their 10th-round clash against Wentworthville on May 16.
Regular captain Sipley has been outstanding for the Vodafone Junior Warriors this season. The front rower out of St Paul’s College was named the players’ player of the day after each of the side’s last two games to earn his NSW Cup debut.
Ulberg will make his third appearance this year after scoring three tries in two earlier outings.
With Sipley missing, Amoni Tufui has been named to start in the front row in what will be his eighth NYC game. Ulberg is replaced on the wing by the imposing Koli Oneone who was used in the centres in the side’s last two games against Cronulla and Parramatta.
After pounding Parramatta 46-16 on May 16 – their second away win of the season – followed by last week’s bye, the Vodafone Junior Warriors sit fourth on the ladder with 13 points. In their last five games they’ve had just one loss, a last-minute setback against the Sharks, while they have won all four of their home games so far this season.
Newcastle opened the season by handing the Vodafone Junior Warriors a heavy 41-16 defeat but now lies 10th on 10 points.
Looking to extend his impressive try-scoring rate this weekend will be left wing Tomas Aoake, who has 10 tries in 10 games so far and 13 in 13 games in total since debuting last year.
Standoff Ata Hingano needs only two more points to reach 100 for the season.
VODAFONE JUNIOR WARRIORS v NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
1.40pm, Sunday, May 31
Referees: Peter Gough and Matt Noyen
VODAFONE JUNIOR WARRIORS
1 BRAD ABBEY
2 TOMAS AOAKE
3 JUNIOR PAUGA
4 SEMISI TYRELL
5 KOLI ONEONE
6 ATA HINGANO
7 ERIN CLARK
8 BUNTY AFOA
9 NATHANIEL ROACHE
10 AMONI TUFUI
11 OFAHIKI OGDEN
12 MARATA NIUKORE
13 JAZZ TEVAGA
14 CHRIS SIO
15 MATIU LOVE-HENRY
16 PAUL TULI
17 TUALIMA TUALIMA
18 LEWIS SOOSEMEA
COACH: KELVIN WRIGHT