Ben Matulino and Bodene Thompson have both been recalled while Tuimoala Lolohea and Thomas Leuluai return from injury for the Vodafone Warriors’ 10th-round NRL match against the Penrith Panthers at AMI Stadium in Christchurch on Saturday (5.00pm kick-off).
Matulino is on the bench, Thompson in the second row, Lolohea reclaims the fullback spot and Leuluai is back in the halves.
Matulino and Thompson were among six players made unavailable for selection for the last outing against St George Illawarra while Lolohea (knee) and Leuluai (hamstring) will make their comebacks from one-match injury layoffs.
Lolohea started at fullback against Melbourne as Roger Tuivasa-Sheck’s replacement. His return results in David Fusitu’a switching to the wing while Leuluai comes back to replace Jeff Robson, who partnered Shaun Johnson in the halves against the Dragons.
Thompson is the only change in the starting pack with head coach Andrew McFadden retaining Jazz Tevaga and James Gavet in the front row plus John Palavi at loose forward.
Former Canterbury-Bankstown back rower Shaun Lane, who made his club debut against the Dragons, moves to the bench alongside Matulino, Issac Luke, Charlie Gubb and Matt Allwood.
McFadden said Mannering was still recovering from an ugly facial wound he received against the Storm while Manu Vatuvei, who had been on medical leave, was being monitored after returning to training yesterday.
“Ben and Bodene, along with the four other players, have served their punishment for breaching team standards,” said McFadden.
“All six have been reintegrated into the squad as we now focus fully on moving forward to prepare for what is a massive game for us against Penrith in Christchurch.
“We were thrilled with the way the new players brought in went against the Dragons. John Palavi, James Gavet and Jazz Tevaga all deserve the chance to start again.
“While David Fusitu’a was outstanding at fullback against the Dragons, we’ve identified Tui as the player to fill the role following Roger’s injury so David goes to the wing.”
The Vodafone Warriors head into the match in Christchurch with a four wins-five losses record, ninth on the table with the same record as the seventh-placed Penrith.
This will be the first NRL match in Christchurch since the Vodafone Warriors beat the Sydney Roosters 20-18 at Jade Stadium, now closed for use following damage in the 2011 earthquake.
The Vodafone Warriors have won 15, drawn one and lost 19 of their 35 matches against Penrith while their away record shows seven wins, a draw and 10 defeats in 18 games.
In more recent times the Panthers have been in the ascendancy, winning five of the last six games since beating the Vodafone Warriors 18-16 in Auckland late in the 2012 season.
VODAFONE WARRIORS v PENRITH PANTHERS
AMI Stadium, Christchurch
5.00pm, Saturday, May 14
1 TUIMOALA LOLOHEA
2 JONATHAN WRIGHT
3 BLAKE AYSHFORD
4 SOLOMONE KATA
5 DAVID FUSITU’A
6 THOMAS LEULUAI
7 SHAUN JOHNSON
8 JACOB LILLYMAN
9 JAZZ TEVAGA
10 JAMES GAVET
11 BODENE THOMPSON
12 RYAN HOFFMAN (c)
13 JOHN PALAVI
14 ISSAC LUKE
15 BEN MATULINO
16 CHARLIE GUBB
17 SHAUN LANE
18 MATT ALLWOOD
HEAD COACH | ANDREW McFADDEN