Second rower Raymond Faitala-Mariner replaces the injured Ben Henry in the only line-up change for the Vodafone Warriors’ second-round NRL clash against the Brisbane Broncos at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night (7.05pm kick-off local time; 10.05pm NZT).
It’s a selection which restores the first-choice back row combination used last year of Bodene Thompson and captain Ryan Hoffman in the second row and Simon Mannering at loose forward.
Thompson, who missed the Downer NRL Auckland Nines and the two trials, played 49 minutes in total after starting on the bench before replacing Henry just 20 minutes into last Saturday’s season-opening 26-34 loss to Wests Tigers.
Faitala-Mariner started the 2016 campaign in the Intrust Super Premiership (formerly the New South Wales Cup) last weekend. He has been chosen for his 12th first-grade appearance after becoming Vodafone Warrior #200 when he made his debut against Gold Coast on Anzac Day last year.
Vodafone Warriors head coach Andrew McFadden was impressed with Thompson’s return against the Tigers.
“Coming back from injury with no football behind him, he was outstanding,” he said.
“He won our player of the day award in a close vote and he certainly deserved it.”
McFadden called for a vastly-improved start from the players in the Suncorp Stadium cauldron on Friday.
“It’s an exciting stadium to play in with a great atmosphere,” he said.
“Our mindset wasn’t right in the first half against the Tigers. We were far too passive, waiting to see what would happen.
“With the right mindset in the second half we saw what this team is capable of. We have to be a lot better from the outset this week.
“While we could see signs of our combinations working it’s still going to take a little time for them to really settle.”
Apart from Faitala-Mariner the bench is the same as last week with Nathaniel Roache, Sam Lisone and James Gavet again named. In his first NRL game for the club, Gavet made the most metres of any of the side’s forwards against the Tigers (130 from 13 runs).
Front rower Jacob Lillyman this week moves within three appearances of his 150th NRL appearance for the club while half Shaun Johnson is closing in on 50 career tries with his 46th touchdown last week.
Friday’s match-up is the 37th between the two clubs with Brisbane holding a 21-15 edge in wins but in matches at Suncorp Stadium the Broncos have a 7-3 advantage. However, since beating Brisbane for the first time in 2001, the Vodafone Warriors have won 15 of the 27 encounters between the clubs.
VODAFONE WARRIORS v BRISBANE BRONCOS
Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
7.05pm, Friday, March 11
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
10 BEN MATULINO
11 BODENE THOMPSON
12 RYAN HOFFMAN (c)
13 SIMON MANNERING
14 NATHANIEL ROACHE
15 SAM LISONE
16 JAMES GAVET
17 RAYMOND FAITALA-MARINER
HEAD COACH | ANDREW McFADDEN