Halfback Mason Lino, second rower Isaiah Papali'i and centre Anthony Gelling have all been named in the Vodafone Warriors' starting line-up against the Melbourne Storm in the annual Anzac Day match at AAMI Park on Wednesday (7.00pm kick-off local time; 9.00pm NZT).
Lino and Gelling again start in place of Shaun Johnson and Solomone Kata after helping the Vodafone Warriors to their gritty 20-12 seventh-round win over St George Illawarra at Mount Smart Stadium last Friday night.
And Papali'i is set to start an NRL match for the third time after replacing Tohu Harris 27 minutes into the encounter with the Dragons.
Johnson (groin) and Kata (ankle) ran at training today but weren't declared fit to play while Harris hasn't been cleared as he undergoes concussion protocols after leaving the field on Friday night.
Lino, Gelling and Papali'i – boasting just 23 appearances between them – scored three of the Vodafone Warriors' four tries as they ended the Dragons' six-match unbeaten start to the season in one of the most extraordinary contests in the club's history, just the sixth win in 27 meetings.
With Penrith losing to Cronulla yesterday, the result leaves the Vodafone Warriors level with the Dragons at the top of the table on 12 points and second on points differential.
With Johnson, Kata and Harris out and Lino, Gelling and Papali'i replacing them, Ligi Sao, Joseph Vuna and Sam Cook have been brought onto the extended bench alongside Jazz Tevaga, Sam Lisone, Albert Vete, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad and Chris Satae.
While the Vodafone Warriors have started their campaign with an unprecedented six wins in the opening seven rounds, Melbourne has mixed four wins with three losses. Two of their defeats were by two points and one point to the Wests Tigers but, since losing to the Tigers in Auckland on April 7, the Storm have seen off Newcastle 40-14 and Brisbane 34-20 to sit fifth on the ladder with eight points.
This will be the ninth time the Vodafone Warriors and the Storm have met since this Anzac Day fixture was introduced in 2009. The match-up was shelved in 2015 when the Storm met Manly and the Vodafone Warriors faced Gold Coast.
The first meeting nine years ago was a 14-14 draw after golden point extra time while the Vodafone Warriors have had wins in two of the other seven encounters in 2011 (18-14) and 2014 (16-10).
With the Michael Moore Trophy at stake, the Vodafone Warriors will wear their Heritage jersey bearing a poppy on Wednesday night.
Overall this will be the 41st time the Vodafone Warriors have met the Storm since the first game in 1999. The Vodafone Warriors have 16 wins, Melbourne 22 with two games have been drawn.
VODAFONE WARRIORS v MELBOURNE STORM
AAMI Park, Melbourne
7.00pm, Wednesday, April 25, 2018
1 ROGER TUIVASA-SHECK (c)
2 DAVID FUSITU'A
3 PETA HIKU
4 ANTHONY GELLING
5 KEN MAUMALO
6 BLAKE GREEN
7 MASON LINO
8 BUNTY AFOA
9 ISSAC LUKE
10 AGNATIUS PAASI
11 SIMON MANNERING
12 ISAIAH PAPALI'I
13 ADAM BLAIR
14 JAZZ TEVAGA
15 SAM LISONE
16 ALBERT VETE
17 CHARNZE NICOLL-KLOKSTAD
18 LIGI SAO
20 JOSEPH VUNA
21 CHRIS SATAE
22 SAM COOK
HEAD COACH | STEPHEN KEARNEY