Veterans Manu Vatuvei and Issac Luke have given the Vodafone Warriors a huge boost ahead of tomorrow’s fourth-round NRL clash against the Newcastle Knights at Mount Smart Stadium tomorrow (4.00pm kick-off; match day sponsor: SKYCITY).
Both came through today’s final training session clearing the way to play tomorrow as the Vodafone Warriors bid to win their first game of the season.
Vatuvei was forced off the field with a rib problem after 47 minutes of the second-round encounter with the Brisbane Broncos, side-lining him for last Sunday’s clash against the Melbourne Storm. He wasn’t chosen earlier this week but is now set for his first home appearance of the year and the 213th game of his career.
Luke was poised to make his home debut as a Vodafone Warrior against Melbourne only to be ruled out with a leg injury he picked up in the final field session the previous day, so handing 20-year-old rookie Jazz Tevaga an unexpected start.
Luke was also left out of the original side to play Newcastle but has been given the all-clear for his belated first home appearance, the 191st of his career.
While Vatuvei and Luke will add a combined total of more than 400 NRL appearances to the side tomorrow, the Vodafone Warriors have lost second rower Bodene Thompson. He picked up a rib complaint this week and was withdrawn from the side after today’s run.
Vodafone Warriors head coach Andrew McFadden said Thompson’s injury – like those to Vatuvei and Luke last week – is a short-term issue.
With Vatuvei and Luke in and Thompson out, McFadden will wait until an hour before kick-off tomorrow to confirm the make-up of the final squad of 17 to take on Newcastle.