Second rower Ryan Hoffman returns from six weeks on the sideline while Nathaniel Roache starts at hooker in two key changes for the Vodafone Warriors’ 23rd-round NRL match against the Canberra Raiders at Mount Smart Stadium on Sunday (4.00pm kick-off; match day sponsor: Flava).
Hoffman last appeared in the 21-14 home win over Canterbury-Bankstown on June 23, a foot injury forcing him to miss the Vodafone Warriors’ run of losses to Manly, Penrith, North Queensland, Cronulla and Newcastle.
The 33-year-old gives the side a 301-game injection of experience teaming up in the back row with the seasoned Simon Mannering and second-year NRL player Bunty Afoa.
Roache (21) is set to start for just the third time in what will be his 20th NRL outing.
In his first game back from a hamstring injury, he was used in the second half of last Saturday’s 10-26 loss to the Knights. He began at hooker but spent the last 26 minutes on the right wing replacing the injured David Fusitu’a.
In a busy 40 minutes, his statistics showed 120 metres from 10 runs (including four dummy half runs), 13 tackles without a miss, two line breaks, a line break assist, four tackle breaks, two off loads and two kicks as well as his first NRL try.
Roache’s selection results in Issac Luke moving to the interchange while Hoffman’s return means Afoa is set to start on the right edge with Isaiah Papali’i – originally named to start last week – on the bench.
Others on the extended bench are Sam Lisone, rookies James Bell, Chris Satae and Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad plus second-year NRL players Jazz Tevaga and Ata Hingano.
Sunday’s match will leave prop Jacob Lillyman on track to play his 250th career match in Friday week’s clash against South Sydney.
The Raiders have found form over the last month. After a run of four straight losses they’ve won three of their last four matches to sit on 22 points, four outside the top eight.
They have a 20-17 winning edge in 37 matches between the two clubs but the Vodafone Warriors are 12-7 ahead in home contests including those played at Yarrow Stadium in 2016 (lost 12-38) and Eden Park in 2014 (won 54-12); the 42-point Eden Park victory is the club’s biggest over the Raiders.
In the 17 matches the rivals have played at Mount Smart Stadium, the Vodafone Warriors are 11-6 ahead winning the last two there in 2015 (30-8) and 2013 (50-16).
- Members of softball’s world champion Black Sox will be special guests at Mount Smart Stadium on Sunday. In attendance will be Nathan Nukunuku (captain), Thomas Enoka (vice-captain), Cole Evans, Brad Rona, Ben Enoka and Campbell Gibson plus some of the management team.
VODAFONE WARRIORS v CANBERRA RAIDERS
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
4.00pm, Sunday, August 13
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 NATHANIEL ROACHE
10 BEN MATULINO
11 BUNTY AFOA
12 RYAN HOFFMAN
13 SIMON MANNERING
14 ISSAC LUKE
15 SAM LISONE
16 ISAIAH PAPALI’I
17 JAMES BELL
18 JAZZ TEVAGA
20 CHRIS SATAE
21 MAFOA’AEATA HINGANO
22 CHARNZE NICOLL-KLOKSTAD
HEAD COACH | STEPHEN KEARNEY