Vodafone Warriors young gun Nathaniel Roache has been named to start at hooker for Saturday night’s clash against the Manly Sea Eagles in Perth.
With regular No 9 Issac Luke ruled out after suffering a shoulder injury during last Friday’s win over the Bulldogs, Roache has been promoted from the bench.
He is one of two changes Vodafone Warriors coach Stephen Kearney has made to his starting line up ahead of what looms as the longest road trip in the NRL.
After missing his side’s round 16 win over the Bulldogs, Vodafone Warriors playmaker Kieran Foran has also been named to return in the halves.
“It’s obviously disappointing that Issac is unavailable for this game but Nate did a great job when he came on against the Bulldogs and this is a real opportunity for him,” Kearney said.
“While we were happy to get the win over the Bulldogs last week, there is still plenty of room for improvement.
“The Sea Eagles have been playing good footy and we are really looking forward to the challenge.
“We know there are a lot of Kiwis in Perth so we are hoping to have plenty of support at nib Stadium this weekend.”
On the back of an impressive performance at standoff against the Bulldogs, Ata Hingano has been named on an extended bench along with Bunty Afoa, Albert Vete, James Gavet, Manu Vatuvei, Ligi Sao, Isaiah Papalii and Mason Lino.
Solomone Kata remains unavailable for selection after being given bereavement leave last week to fly home to Tonga following the sudden death of his older brother.
Prop Sam Lisone will also miss Saturday’s clash due to a pressing family engagement.
This will be the sixth straight year the Vodafone Warriors have made the trek to Western Australia.
Last year, the Vodafone Warriors and Manly played out an epic contest in atrocious weather at nib Stadium, the Sea Eagles winning 15-14 through a Daly Cherry-Evans golden point field goal. This year, they fly into Perth on Thursday afternoon and will mix and mingle with local fans at a footy clinic alongside the Sea Eagles at nib Stadium on Friday at 1:30pm (WA time) before the two sides square off a day later at the same venue.
VODAFONE WARRIORS v MANLY SEA EAGLES
nib Stadium, Perth
7.30pm (NZT), Saturday, July 1
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 Jacob Lillyman
9 Nathaniel Roache
10 Ben Matulino
11 Bodene Thompson
12 Ryan Hoffman
13 Simon Mannering
14 Mafoa’aeata Hingano
15 Bunty Afoa
16 Albert Vete
17 James Gavet
18 Manu Vatuvei
20 Ligi Sao
21 Isaiah Papalii
22 Mason Lino
Head Coach Stephen Kearney