Origin representatives Jacob Lillyman and Ryan Hoffman have been named in an otherwise unchanged Vodafone Warriors starting line-up for Saturday’s 15th-round NRL game against Gold Coast at Cbus Super Stadium in Robina (5.30pm kick-off local time; 7.30pm NZT).
Queensland front rower Lillyman and New South Wales second rower Hoffman go head to head again in Origin II at the Melbourne Cricket Ground tomorrow night.
Back in Auckland, Vodafone Warriors head coach Andrew McFadden and one of his assistant coaches Andrew Webster will be riding a New South Wales win but will be more concerned about Lillyman and Hoffman surviving the contest without any injury concerns.
They have a total of more than 450 NRL appearances between them with Lillyman eyeing his 199th career game this weekend, leaving him set to achieve his 200-game milestone in the Vodafone Warriors’ 16th-round #OnesieParty clash against Canberra at Mount Smart Stadium on Saturday, June 27 (5.00pm kick-off; match day sponsor: Flava).
Their replacements against the Roosters – Albert Vete and Raymond Faitala-Mariner – have both been named on a five-man bench.
Sam Tomkins hasn’t been named in the squad this week after being listed to start in the last two matches against South Sydney and the Roosters.
There was optimism each time that he would be able to return after taking another blow to his injured knee in his comeback game against Newcastle on May 31 but ultimately he was ruled out and replaced by rookie Tuimoala Lolohea. This week Lolohea is named to start.
“Sam is doing all he can to get back on the field. He wants to be out there and we want him to play, too,” said Webster.
“It’s frustrating for everyone but that’s typical of a knee injury like his making him a week to week proposition. He’ll keep working at it and we’ll keep giving him every opportunity but we have named Tui this week. We have a lot of faith in him and for a young player he has been doing a terrific job in such a tough position.”
Apart from Lillyman and Hoffman replacing Vete and Faitala-Mariner, the starting line-up named to face the Titans is the same as the one used against the Roosters.
There are changes on the bench, though, with hooker Siliva Havili recalled after being used in the Newcastle and South Sydney matches but returning to the NSW Cup last week.
Apart from Havili, Faitala-Mariner and Vete, the other players on the bench are Sebastine Ikahihifo and Charlie Gubb.
Sam Lisone and Jonathan Wright are out of the squad this week. Lisone, who has played all 13 games so far this season, had just six minutes against the Roosters before being forced off the field with a back injury.
More milestone moments are close in this, the club’s 20th anniversary season.
Last Saturday night it was Manu Vatuvei claiming a unique place in the competition’s history when he brought up his 10th try of the season giving him 10 tries or more in 10 consecutive seasons.
This week not only does Lillyman play his 199th game but second rower Bodene Thompson plays his 99th career match (against his former club).
The Titans stopped a run of eight straight losses to the Vodafone Warriors when they won 32-28 at Mount Smart Stadium on Anzac Day. The overall record is 10-7 in the Vodafone Warriors’ favour while they have won five out of eight on the Gold Coast.
GOLD COAST TITANS v VODAFONE WARRIORS
Cbus Super Stadium, Robina
5.30pm, Saturday, June 20
1 TUIMOALA LOLOHEA
2 KEN MAUMALO
3 KONRAD HURRELL
4 SOLOMONE KATA
5 MANU VATUVEI
6 CHAD TOWNSEND
7 SHAUN JOHNSON
8 JACOB LILLYMAN
9 NATHAN FRIEND
10 BEN MATULINO
11 BODENE THOMPSON
12 RYAN HOFFMAN
13 SIMON MANNERING (c)
14 SILIVA HAVILI
15 SEBASTINE IKAHIHIFO
16 RAYMOND FAITALA-MARINER
17 CHARLIE GUBB
18 ALBERT VETE
HEAD COACH: ANDREW McFADDEN