James Gavet has been called into the starting line-up for his first NRL appearance for the Vodafone Warriors against former club Wests Tigers in today’s first-round NYC clash at Campbelltown Sports Stadium (5.30pm kick-off local time; 7.30pm NZT).
The 26-year-old was selected on the bench for his 15th career match but will now run on alongside veteran front rower Jacob Lillyman with the seasoned Ben Matulino to be used from the bench.
Gavet, a Kelston Boys’ High School old boy, becomes Vodafone Warrior #208 having previously appeared at NRL level for Canterbury-Bankstown, Wests Tigers and Brisbane. He played for the Vodafone Junior Warriors in the NYC in 2009 followed by two seasons with the club’s NRL squad when he appeared only at New South Wales Cup level for the then-Auckland Vulcans (including the 28-30 grand final loss to the Bulldogs in 2011).
The switch means five of the six newcomers selected will be starting with Gavet joined by fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, centre Blake Ayshford, halfback Jeff Robson and hooker Issac Luke. Nathaniel Roache makes his NRL debut from the bench.
Mount Albert Grammar School-educated Roache (19), who was in the club’s NYC premiership-winning side in 2014, has made 38 appearances for the Vodafone Junior Warriors over the last two seasons and also played for the New South Wales Cup side last year. He was outstanding at last month’s Downer NRL Auckland Nines, scoring three tries to help the club to the final for the first time.
Ayshford will line up not only against some familiar faces but also in familiar territory as he takes on the club he played 104 times for from 2009-2014; as well as Gavet, Thompson also has strong Tigers links. He and Gavet were with the club in 2013 and 2014.
Tuivasa-Sheck becomes Vodafone Warrior #203, Ayshford #204, Robson #205, Luke #206, Roache #207 and Gavet #208.
Dropping off the extended bench are Jonathan Wright and Albert Vete.
VODAFONE WARRIORS v WESTS TIGERS
Campbelltown Sports Stadium, Sydney
5.30pm, Saturday, March 05
Referees: Ashley Klein and Chris Sutton
1 ROGER TUIVASA-SHECK
2 TUIMOALA LOLOHEA
3 BLAKE AYSHFORD
4 SOLOMONE KATA
5 MANU VATUVEI
6 SHAUN JOHNSON
7 JEFF ROBSON
8 JACOB LILLYMAN
9 ISSAC LUKE
16 JAMES GAVET
11 BEN HENRY
12 RYAN HOFFMAN (c)
13 SIMON MANNERING
10 BEN MATULINO
14 NATHANIEL ROACHE
15 SAM LISONE
17 BODENE THOMPSON
HEAD COACH | ANDREW McFADDEN