Vodafone Warriors head coach Stephen Kearney has listed veteran Adam Blair at loose forward and named Agnatius Paasi at prop in the line-up for Saturday’s fourth-round NRL encounter with the Sydney Roosters at Allianz Stadium (5.30pm kick-off local time; 7.30pm NZT).
With regular interchange prop Sam Lisone suspended this week, 2017 rookie Chris Satae is in line to play his first NRL match of the season and the fourth of his career after being listed in jersey No 16.
Added to the extended bench is prop Albert Vete while the rest of the personnel in the squad remains unchanged. Back rower Simon Mannering hasn’t yet been cleared to play as he continues to recover from a shoulder injury he picked up in the trial against Gold Coast.
“Simon’s getting closer but remains a week-by-week proposition,” said Kearney.
“We lose Sam through suspension which is unfortunate because he has been doing a wonderful job for us off the bench.
“At the same time, it provides an opportunity for Chris, who has been impressive for us in the Intrust Super Premiership.”
Satae clocked up 72 minutes in last Saturday’s 16-18 ISP loss to Penrith, making 177 metres from 18 carries plus 32 tackles. He also gained 103 metres in the home loss to Canterbury-Bankstown and 185 metres against North Sydney.
Following their dramatic 20-19 success in Canberra last Saturday, the Vodafone Warriors face another tough away assignment this week before returning home for the SKYCITY Auckland Double Header on April 7.
After being stunned 10-8 by Wests Tigers in the opening round, the Roosters rebounded with convincing wins over the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs (30-12) and Newcastle (38-8) to surge to third on the ladder just behind the Vodafone Warriors.
In putting together a 3-0 start to the season for the first time in the club’s history, the second-placed Vodafone Warriors share the distinction with leader St George Illawarra of being the only two unbeaten sides after the first three rounds.
In 38 meetings since 1995, the Vodafone Warriors have a 21-16 winning advantage with one draw.
The Vodafone Warriors have won the last three clashes – 14-13 at Mount Smart Stadium last year, 12-10 at home in 2016 and 32-28 in extra time in Gosford earlier in 2016.
VODAFONE WARRIORS v SYDNEY ROOSTERS
Allianz Stadium, Sydney
5.30pm, Saturday, March 31, 2018
1 ROGER TUIVASA-SHECK (c)
2 DAVID FUSITU’A
3 PETA HIKU
4 SOLOMONE KATA
5 KEN MAUMALO
6 BLAKE GREEN
7 SHAUN JOHNSON
8 JAMES GAVET
9 ISSAC LUKE
10 AGNATIUS PAASI
11 LEIVAHA PULU
12 TOHU HARRIS
13 ADAM BLAIR
14 JAZZ TEVAGA
15 LIGI SAO
16 CHRIS SATAE
17 BUNTY AFOA
18 MASON LINO
20 ANTHONY GELLING
21 ALBERT VETE
22 CHARNZE NICOLL-KLOKSTAD
HEAD COACH | STEPHEN KEARNEY