An unchanged Vodafone Warriors side has been named to face defending premier Cronulla in Friday night’s 21st-round NRL clash at Mount Smart Stadium (8.00pm kick-off).
With second rower Ryan Hoffman (foot) and hooker Nathaniel Roache (hamstring) still sidelined, head coach Stephen Kearney has stayed with the same line-up which went all the way with North Queensland before losing 12-24 last Saturday night.
It means halfback Mason Lino, who had his first NRL outing in almost two years last week, will again be teamed in the halves with Kieran Foran while big front rower Chris Satae is retained on the interchange after his cameo role on debut against the Cowboys.
“Mason brought a lot of energy to the team and Chris did exactly what we expected of him,” said Kearney.
Besides directing the team, Lino (23) ran the ball nine times for 90 metres, was the dominant kicker making 249 metres from 12 kicks, made 15 tackles and had the team’s most supports with 25.
Used off the bench for 10 minutes, Satae (24) marked his appearance as Vodafone Warrior #219 with four strong carries for 50 metres and made eight tackles without a miss and no errors.
Kearney was full of admiration for the effort the Vodafone Warriors delivered against the Cowboys while disappointed with some of the execution.
Among those who excelled was Foran who had the most runs (24) and made the most metres (176) as well as having a vital hand in each of the side’s tries scored by Bunty Afoa and Simon Mannering.
Back rowers Mannering, Afoa and Bodene Thompson all played the full 80 minutes with Mannering again making a colossal contribution. He finished with 54 tackles lifting his tally to 221 tackles in the last four games (an average of 55.25 a game); his total for the season is 719, fifth highest among all players so far. He also made 133 metres as well as scoring his 62nd career try.
Wing David Fusitu’a and Thompson will this week extend their sequences of appearing in every match this season while Jacob Lillyman, Sam Lisone, Issac Luke, Ken Maumalo, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and the now-injured Shaun Johnson have missed just one game.
The Vodafone Warriors have enjoyed reasonable success over Cronulla during their history with a 16-20 win-loss record in 36 encounters. In 16 matches at Mount Smart Stadium they have a 9-7 edge but the Sharks have won seven of the last nine matches between the two sides.
VODAFONE WARRIORS v CRONULLA SHARKS
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
8.00pm, Friday, July 28
1 ROGER TUIVASA-SHECK (c)
2 DAVID FUSITU’A
3 BLAKE AYSHFORD
4 SOLOMONE KATA
5 KEN MAUMALO
6 KIERAN FORAN
7 MASON LINO
8 JACOB LILLYMAN
9 ISSAC LUKE
10 BEN MATULINO
11 BODENE THOMPSON
12 BUNTY AFOA
13 SIMON MANNERING
14 MAFOA’AEATA HINGANO
15 SAM LISONE
16 LIGI SAO
17 CHRIS SATAE
18 CHARNZE NICOLL-KLOKSTAD
20 JAMES BELL
21 JAZZ TEVAGA
22 ISAIAH PAPALI’I
HEAD COACH | STEPHEN KEARNEY