Four frontline players return from injury while hooker Issac Luke has also been named for the Vodafone Warriors’ ninth-round NRL clash against the Wests Tigers at Mount Smart Stadium on Saturday (7.30pm kick-off; match day sponsor: TNT).
Halfback Shaun Johnson and centre Solomone Kata make their comebacks after missing the last two outings against St George Illawarra and Melbourne while second rower Tohu Harris also returns after being ruled out of the clash against the Storm.
James Gavet, who played in the first three matches of the season, has been included on the bench after missing the last five rounds with a hamstring injury picked up on the eve of the fourth-round encounter with the Sydney Roosters in March. He played 38 minutes in the Vodafone Warriors’ 20-18 Intrust Super Premiership win over the Newtown Jets last Saturday, making 139 metres from 14 runs as well as 17 tackles.
Luke was originally expected to be out for up to four weeks with a knee injury which limited him to just 16 minutes against Melbourne on Anzac Day. However, he trained yesterday and has been included to face the Tigers.
Named on the extended bench in jersey No 14 is former Gold Coast utility Karl Lawton, who was signed in early March. Used at hooker with the club’s ISP side, he’s in line to become Vodafone Warrior #229, the ninth player to make his debut for the club so far this year.
Lawton comes onto the bench for Jazz Tevaga, who has been ruled out with a shoulder injury while Anthony Gelling, Mason Lino and Isaiah Papali’i, all starters against the Storm, are on the extended bench.
Johnson is set to make his 149th career appearance leaving him in line to achieve his 150-game milestone at home against the Roosters on May 12.
The Vodafone Warriors face a programme of three matches at Mount Smart Stadium in May with the Roosters (May 12) and South Sydney (May 26) follow while they’re away to Parramatta on May 18.
They come off a heavy loss to Melbourne after beating competition leader St George Illawarra five days earlier, a result which leaves them third on the ladder with six wins and two losses a third of the way through the season.
In 18 encounters with the Tigers, the Vodafone Warriors have a 13-15 win-loss record with a 7-5 edge in 12 meetings at home. The Tigers have won the last four contests.
VODAFONE WARRIORS v WESTS TIGERS
7.30pm, Saturday, May 05, 2018
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
Referees: Ben Cummins and Grant Atkins
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 BUNTY AFOA
9 ISSAC LUKE
10 AGNATIUS PAASI
11 SIMON MANNERING
12 TOHU HARRIS
13 ADAM BLAIR
14 KARL LAWTON
15 SAM LISONE
16 ISAIAH PAPALI’I
17 JAMES GAVET
18 ANTHONY GELLING
20 MASON LINO
21 ALBERT VETE
22 SAM COOK
HEAD COACH | STEPHEN KEARNEY