Queensland prop Jacob Lillyman comes into the front row for Charlie Gubb in the only line-up change for the Vodafone Warriors’ 20th-round NRL clash against the Canberra Raiders at GIO Stadium on Saturday (3.00pm kick-off local time; 5.00pm NZT).
Lillyman, who’ll be making his 223rd career appearance, picked up an ankle injury in the third and final State of Origin match ruling him out of the long-haul away game against Manly in Perth last Saturday.
Gubb will miss this week’s encounter with the Raiders after landing a grade two shoulder charge in the 14-15 golden point loss to the Sea Eagles. The Vodafone Warriors will dispute the grading at a judiciary hearing in Sydney tomorrow night.
Lillyman has been named to start alongside James Gavet while senior prop Ben Matulino is again listed to come off the bench, which he did so effectively against Manly when he carried the ball 19 times for 146 metres.
Matulino is on an unchanged bench alongside Tuimoala Lolohea, Sam Lisone and Jazz Tevaga.
The Vodafone Warriors have won their last two matches in Canberra – 54-18 in 2014 and 18-6 in 2015 – but head coach Andrew McFadden is taking little notice of those results as he prepares to shape up to his old club again.
“The Raiders are on the rise and are playing some really good football at the moment so it’s going to be a good test for us,” he said.
“There was lots of disappointment for us losing to Manly. We played fairly well I thought. We started slowly and that probably cost us in the end.
“We built ourselves into the game but we just couldn’t come up with that final blow in what were difficult conditions.”
While Lillyman will return the injury news on Bodene Thompson (ankle) and Albert Vete (hamstring) is mixed. McFadden said Vete isn’t a chance but there’s a possibility that Thompson may recover.
McFadden today reiterated the Vodafone Warriors’ commitment to Lolohea, who has been the subject of discussion in the past few days after limited game time in Perth.
“I’m very committed to Tui and his position with the club,” he said.
“I know the circumstances at the weekend weren’t ideal for him but we’ve got a lot of faith in Tui and he’ll get game time this weekend.
“We’ve got him on contract until 2018 so he’s going to be very valuable to the club.
“Certainly his best position is probably in the halves and we’ve got to keep developing him but at the moment our two halves Shaun (Johnson) and Tommy (Leuluai) are going really well for us.”
Eyeing this critical clash, the Vodafone Warriors are eighth on the ladder on 20 points five points behind fifth-placed Canberra.
While the last two trips have been successful the overall record at GIO Stadium is strongly weighted in Canberra’s favour, which has 11 wins in 14 encounters at the ground.
Overall the Raiders edge the Vodafone Warriors 18-17 in 35 meetings since 1995.
VODAFONE WARRIORS v CANBERRA RAIDERS
GIO Stadium, Canberra
3.00pm, Saturday, July 23
1 DAVID FUSITU’A
2 KEN MAUMALO
3 BLAKE AYSHFORD
4 SOLOMONE KATA
5 MANU VATUVEI
6 THOMAS LEULUAI
7 SHAUN JOHNSON
8 JACOB LILLYMAN
9 ISSAC LUKE
10 JAMES GAVET
11 BUNTY AFOA
12 RYAN HOFFMAN (c)
13 SIMON MANNERING
14 TUIMOALA LOLOHEA
15 SAM LISONE
16 BEN MATULINO
17 JAZZ TEVAGA
HEAD COACH | ANDREW McFADDEN