Ali Lauitiiti during the Vodafone Warriors 2016 Season Launch at Sky City in Auckland, New Zealand. Wednesday 2 March 2016 Copyright Photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz

Ali Lauitiiti won’t just be making his first appearance in Vodafone Warriors colours in 12 years but he’ll also be captain for the first-round clash in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW against the Illawarra Cutters at WIN Stadium in Wollongong today (3.00pm kick-off local time; 5.00pm NZT).

The 36-year-old begins his return to his original club in the competition formerly known as the New South Wales Cup.

There’s one change to the line-up initially named on Tuesday with Jazz Tevaga moved from the interchange to start at loose forward while experienced John Palavi is switched to the bench.

The Stacey Jones-coached Vodafone Warriors will come up against a familiar face in Sebastine Ikahihifo, who finished up with the club last year after signing with St George Illawarra.

Lauitiiti is one of eight players with NRL experience in the side named today. He had 115 games for the Vodafone Warriors from 1998-2004 before amassing a total of 294 appearances for Leeds and Wakefield in the English Super League.

Having missed the club’s trials last month, Lauitiiti will be playing his first game as a Vodafone Warrior since April 16, 2004.

Front rower Upu Poching has had a brief taste of first-grade football while Raymond Faitala-Mariner and Palavi have also had NRL exposure; in the backs wings David Fusitu’a and Ken Maumalo on the wings and centres Matt Allwood and Konrad Hurrell have more than 100 NRL games between them.

Three NYC-eligible players are included with Ata Hingano at halfback, Erin Clark at hooker and Marata Niukore in the second row. Fullback Tomas Aoake, new signing Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad at standoff and interchange forwards Jazz Tevaga and Paul Tuli have only just graduated from NYC football.   

 

VODAFONE WARRIORS v ILLAWARRA CUTTERS

WIN Stadium, Wollongong

3.00pm, Saturday, March 05

 

VODAFONE WARRIORS

1 TOMAS AOAKE

2 DAVID FUSITU’A

3 KONRAD HURRELL

4 MATT ALLWOOD

5 KEN MAUMALO

6 CHARNZE NICOLL-KLOKSTAD

7 ATA HINGANO

8 ALI LAUITIITI

9 ERIN CLARK

10 UPU POCHING

11 MARATA NIUKORE

12 RAYMOND FAITALA-MARINER

14 JAZZ TEVAGA

Interchange:

13 JOHN PALAVI

15 PAUL TULI

16 PAT SIPLEY

17 JAMES BELL

COACH | STACEY JONES