Mason Lino will start at halfback in the only change to the playing 17 named for the Vodafone Warriors’ NRL Indigenous Round clash against the Sydney Roosters at Mount Smart Stadium on Saturday (5.00pm kick-off; match day sponsor: Canterbury of New Zealand).
Lino comes in for Shaun Johnson, whose ankle injury prevents him making his 150th career appearance against the same side he faced in both his debut in 2011 and his 100th game in 2015.
The 24-year-old Lino will make his fourth appearance of the season after previously filling the position against the Roosters, North Queensland and Melbourne.
Johnson has been omitted after being forced off the field in the 70th minute of the 26-4 win over Wests Tigers but the other two senior players who were injured – hooker Issac Luke and loose forward Adam Blair – have both been listed.
Luke was forced off with a shoulder injury in the 55th minute while Blair left the field with an ankle complaint after returning from the bench for his second stint.
“Adam is fine and will play,” said Vodafone Warriors head coach Stephen Kearney.
“We gave Issac every chance to play last week after injuring his knee against Melbourne and he came through. Once again, we’ll give him every opportunity this week.”
There’s one change on the extended bench with utility Jazz Tevaga (shoulder) back after he was unavailable last week.
The second-placed Vodafone Warriors face another stern examination this week with the Roosters sitting sixth on the ladder after going to a 5-4 record with their 22-20 victory over Manly last Sunday.
When the two sides met in the fourth round the Roosters, who came into the season as one of the premiership favourites, fell to a 6-30 loss at Allianz Stadium.
Since then the Roosters have beaten Cronulla 28-10, lost to South Sydney 14-26, had a 6-0 win over Canterbury-Bankstown, lost to the Dragons 8-24 and accounted Manly.
The Vodafone Warriors have had an identical win-loss-win-loss-win sequence in their last five matches against North Queensland, Brisbane, St George Illawarra, Melbourne and the Tigers.
The Vodafone Warriors have fashioned a solid record against the Roosters. This will be the 40th contest between the two sides with the Vodafone Warriors boasting a 22-1-16 win-draw-loss record. The only two current sides they have had a better run against are Gold Coast and South Sydney.
In 18 meetings at Mount Smart Stadium, the Vodafone Warriors have won 12 and lost six. They have had a sequence of four consecutive victories home and away since 2016.
VODAFONE WARRIORS v SYDNEY ROOSTERS
5.00pm, Saturday, May 12, 2018
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
1 ROGER TUIVASA-SHECK (c)
2 DAVID FUSITU'A
3 PETA HIKU (Ngāriki Kaiputahi)
4 SOLOMONE KATA
5 KEN MAUMALO
6 BLAKE GREEN
7 MASON LINO
8 BUNTY AFOA
9 ISSAC LUKE (Nga Ruahine Rangi, Te Atiawa)
10 AGNATIUS PAASI
11 SIMON MANNERING
12 TOHU HARRIS (Ngāti Kahungunu)
13 ADAM BLAIR (Ngā Puhi)
14 KARL LAWTON
15 SAM LISONE
16 ISAIAH PAPALI'I
17 JAMES GAVET
18 SAM COOK (Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Whatua)
20 JAZZ TEVAGA
21 ALBERT VETE
22 ANTHONY GELLING
HEAD COACH | STEPHEN KEARNEY (Te Atiawa)