Tuimoala Lolohea returns to the starting line-up at fullback with David Fusitu’a moving to the centres for the Vodafone Warriors’ Harvey Norman Women in League encounter with the Penrith Panthers at Mount Smart Stadium on Saturday (5.00pm kick-off; match day sponsor: Harvey Norman).
The 21st-round NRL clash will be preceded by a women’s curtain-raiser between the Akarana and Counties Manukau sides both laden with Kiwi Ferns (12.40pm kick-off) and the NYC contest between the Vodafone Junior Warriors and the table-topping Penrith side (2.40pm kick-off).
The 21-year-old Lolohea is back at fullback after being on the bench in recent weeks while Fusitu’a, who has been filling the custodian’s role lately, takes over on the right edge from experienced Blake Ayshford.
After starting in the centres in the first 18 matches of the campaign, Ayshford moves to the bench this week.
In the only other change to the starting line-up, Ben Matulino will partner fellow veteran Jacob Lillyman with James Gavet, who started last week, on the interchange with Ayshford, Sam Lisone and Jazz Tevaga.
The Vodafone Warriors return to Mount Smart Stadium for the first time in four weeks, their last home appearance being Simon Mannering’s 250th milestone appearance when they beat Gold Coast 27-18.
Since then they have had their second bye and suffered the disappointment of back-to-back golden point losses to Manly in Perth (14-15) and the Raiders in Canberra (22-26).
After two long road trips they now enter the last six rounds of the regular season with a programme built around four home games against the Panthers, South Sydney, Wests Tigers and Parramatta; their last two away clashes take them to Robina to face Gold Coast and Townsville to take on defending champion North Queensland.
The match against Penrith is the 37th between the two clubs with the Panthers holding a 20-15 edge overall with one match drawn.
The Vodafone Warriors lost this year’s ‘away’ match against the Panthers 18-30 in Christchurch in May. The two teams are even at 8-8 in 16 games at Mount Smart Stadium while the visitors have won six of the last seven matches home and away.
VODAFONE WARRIORS v PENRITH PANTHERS
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
5.00pm, Saturday, July 30
1 TUIMOALA LOLOHEA
2 KEN MAUMALO
3 DAVID FUSITU’A
4 SOLOMONE KATA
5 MANU VATUVEI
6 THOMAS LEULUAI
7 SHAUN JOHNSON
8 JACOB LILLYMAN
9 ISSAC LUKE
10 BEN MATULINO
11 BUNTY AFOA
12 RYAN HOFFMAN (c)
13 SIMON MANNERING
14 JAZZ TEVAGA
15 SAM LISONE
16 JAMES GAVET
17 BLAKE AYSHFORD
HEAD COACH | ANDREW McFADDEN
Vodafone Warriors v Penrith Panthers
Women In League match @ Mt Smart
5pm, Saturday July 30