Utility Jazz Tevaga and props Albert Vete and James Gavet have been recalled while new signing Shaun Lane is set to make his Vodafone Warriors NRL debut in Sunday’s ninth-round clash against St George Illawarra at Mount Smart Stadium (2.00pm kick-off; match day sponsor: Flava).
Rookie hooker-back rower Tevaga will make his fourth appearance after being used in earlier matches against Melbourne, Newcastle and the Sydney Roosters while Vete returns on a five-man bench after missing the last two rounds.
Joining them on an extended bench are Gavet – used in the first three rounds of the season – and Lane, who turned out for the club’s Intrust Super Premiership side in wins over North Sydney and Newcastle. The 198cm back rower was in Melbourne as 18th man for the 0-42 Anzac Day loss to the Storm last night.
The 22-year-old former Bulldogs forward is set to become Vodafone Warrior #211 in this week’s clash.
After losing first-choice fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck with a season-ending injury in the win over the Bulldogs, the Vodafone Warriors are now without his replacement Tuimoala Lolohea, who was forced off the field with a minor knee after only 26 minutes last night.
Lolohea is expected to be out for up to two weeks meaning David Fusitu’a will become the Vodafone Warriors’ third different starting fullback in as many games.
Also ruled out is loose forward Simon Mannering who is expected to be sidelined for one or two weeks. He was forced out of last night’s clash with an ugly facial wound; he had his lip stitched back together by a plastic surgeon in Melbourne last night.
The 29-year-old will now miss a match for the first time in three years having made 73 consecutive appearances since round eight in 2013; in fact, he has played 144 of a possible 150 games since round 11 in 2010.
Replacing Mannering at loose forward is Charlie Gubb, who’ll start for the first time in his career after being used from the bench in his previous 21 appearances.
With Fusitu’a named at fullback, Jonathan Wright will start on the right wing and veteran prop Jacob Lillyman is also in the run-on line-up after being used from the bench in the last two games.
This week’s match is just the fourth at home this year after away games against Wests Tigers (March 5), Brisbane (May 11), the Roosters (April 3), Canterbury-Bankstown (April 16) and Melbourne.
St George Illawarra has been the Vodafone Warriors’ most challenging opponent since coming into the competition on 1999. The Dragons have a 19-4 winning record in 23 encounters although the Vodafone Warriors have won three of the 11 meetings at Mount Smart Stadium, the most recent a 44-16 victory in 2007; with Mannering out this week, Manu Vatuvei will be the only survivor from the side that played that day.
VODAFONE WARRIORS v ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
2.00pm, Sunday, May 1
1 DAVID FUSITU’A
2 JONATHAN WRIGHT
3 BLAKE AYSHFORD
4 SOLOMONE KATA
5 MANU VATUVEI
6 THOMAS LEULUAI
7 SHAUN JOHNSON
8 JACOB LILLYMAN
9 ISSAC LUKE
10 BEN MATULINO
11 BODENE THOMPSON
12 RYAN HOFFMAN (c)
13 CHARLIE GUBB
14 JAZZ TEVAGA
15 SAM LISONE
16 ALBERT VETE
17 SHAUN LANE
18 JAMES GAVET
HEAD COACH | ANDREW McFADDEN