Vodafone Warriors head coach Stephen Kearney has confirmed three changes to the starting forward pack for today’s 22nd-round NRL match against the Knights at McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle (3.00pm kick-off local time; 5.00pm NZT).
With experienced second rowers Ryan Hoffman (foot) and Bodene Thompson (pectoral) both sidelined, Kearney has moved the redoubtable 275-game veteran Simon Mannering to the edge where he played most of his career until he was switched to a middle of the park role at the start of the 2015 season.
It will be just the seventh time he has been named to start in the second row since then.
His move results in Jazz Tevaga being called up to start at loose forward for his 12th NRL outing and his first since the 23rd-round clash against South Sydney last year. Tevaga has been an Intrust Super Premiership regular this season.
In another change Sam Lisone will again start in the front row with the experienced Ben Matulino being used in an interchange role; the same late swap was employed for last week’s encounter with Cronulla.
With Mannering going to the second row, rookie Isaiah Papali’i, originally named in the back row, goes to the interchange with Matulino.
Also coming back into the squad is Nathaniel Roache as the back-up hooker while last week’s debutant James Bell is the other interchange player. Roache returns after being sidelined with a hamstring injury since the Manly clash in Perth on July 1.
Dropping out of the original 21-man squad were Ata Hingano and Chris Satae while Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad (18th man) and Ligi Sao (19th man) travelled to Newcastle.
The Vodafone Warriors have a 19-17 edge in the 37 encounters between the sides since 1995 with one match drawn. In 16 matches in Newcastle, the Knights are 9-7 ahead.
The Vodafone Warriors have won the last four clashes but the Knights have won two of the last three matches in Newcastle (2014 and 2015).
VODAFONE WARRIORS v NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS
McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle
3.00pm, Saturday, August 5
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
15 SAM LISONE
13 SIMON MANNERING
12 BUNTY AFOA
18 JAZZ TEVAGA
10 BEN MATULINO
11 ISAIAH PAPALI’I
17 JAMES BELL
21 NATHANIEL ROACHE
HEAD COACH | STEPHEN KEARNEY