Simon Mannering is back from injury, James Gavet returns to the starting line-up and Albert Vete is named on the bench for the Vodafone Warriors’ 12th-round NRL match against Brisbane at Mount Smart Stadium on Saturday night (7.30pm kick-off; match day sponsor: Canterbury of New Zealand).
The is the Vodafone Warriors’ 2017 heritage match which will see the team bedecked in a special Canterbury of New Zealand jersey – the ‘Pacific Warrior’ – as the club pays homage to its Pasifika players past and present.
This will be the 39th encounter since the original Auckland Warriors made their debut against the Broncos on March 10, 1995.
Fittingly it was against Brisbane that the 30-year-old Mannering played his first NRL game on June 26, 2005, the 10th anniversary match between the two foes.
Mannering is back from the hamstring injury which sidelined him for the losses to the Penrith Panthers and the St George Illawarra Dragons.
With veteran prop Jacob Lillyman named in Queensland’s State of Origin side, James Gavet, re-signed on a new two-year contract, joins 200-game man Ben Matulino in the starting front row.
In line for his 40th career match is Albert Vete whose most recent NRL outing was in round three against Canterbury-Bankstown in Dunedin.
He returns after impressing for the club’s Intrust Super Premiership side in its 20-18 win over Wentworthville on Sunday, a match in which he played 48 minutes, making 172 metres from 14 runs as well as 13 tackles without a miss.
“We certainly missed Simon’s presence in our last two matches,” said Vodafone Warriors head coach Stephen Kearney.
“He adds a lot to our group and it’s good to have him back this week.
“With Jake out through Origin, James slots back in to the starting front row and Albie has earned his opportunity with his performances for our ISP side.”
Still out of contention are centre Solomone Kata and Manu Vatuvei, both recovering from calf injuries.
Second rower Ryan Hoffman makes his 298th career appearance this week as he edges towards the NRL’s 300-game club, a milestone he’s on track to reach in the away match against Gold Coast on June 10.
The Vodafone Warriors’ 36-18 win over the Broncos last June was their 16th in the 38 meetings between the two sides. In 19 encounters at Mount Smart Stadium, the Vodafone Warriors have an 11-8 advantage.
VODAFONE WARRIORS v BRISBANE BRONCOS
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
7.30pm, Saturday, May 27
1 ROGER TUIVASA-SHECK (c)
2 CHARNZE NICOLL-KLOKSTAD
3 BLAKE AYSHFORD
4 DAVID FUSITU’A
5 KEN MAUMALO
6 KIERAN FORAN
7 SHAUN JOHNSON
8 JAMES GAVET
9 ISSAC LUKE
10 BEN MATULINO
11 BODENE THOMPSON
12 RYAN HOFFMAN
13 SIMON MANNERING
14 NATHANIEL ROACHE
15 SAM LISONE
16 ALBERT VETE
17 BUNTY AFOA
18 TUIMOALA LOLOHEA
20 TOAFOFOA SIPLEY
21 LIGI SAO
22 MASON LINO
HEAD COACH | STEPHEN KEARNEY