Captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck is named to come back into the Vodafone Warriors’ line-up for their top four NRL encounter with the South Sydney Rabbitohs at Mount Smart Stadium on Saturday (7.30pm kick-off, match day sponsor: SKYCITY).
His return results in Peta Hiku being switched back to the centres after playing a try-scoring role filling in for Tuivasa-Sheck at fullback in last Friday night’s 24-14 win over Parramatta.
Tuivasa-Sheck stayed in Auckland last week on baby watch to support his fiancée Ashley who is due to give birth to their first child any day soon. He was back training with the squad today but still in waiting mode on the baby front.
Kiwi centre Gerard Beale, who made his club debut as Vodafone Warrior #230 against the Eels, has been moved back to the bench, again listed in jersey #18.
Other than Tuivasa-Sheck coming back into the line-up there are no other changes in personnel among the 17 players used against the Eels although there are two positional swaps. Simon Mannering is named to start in the second row with Isaiah Papali’i selected on the bench (Papali’i started in #11 last week) while James Gavet has been listed to start at prop after originally being named on the bench against Parramatta before being used in the run-on side.
Also included among the four interchange players likely to be used are props Bunty Afoa and Chris Satae plus utility Jazz Tevaga.
In only his second NRL appearance this year, Satae’s 15 minutes last week coincided with the Vodafone Warriors’ intensive period on defence when he was required to make no fewer than 24 tackles but barely saw the ball.
He then backed up for the club’s Intrust Super Premiership side the next day when he was used off the bench for 58 minutes (171 metres from 17 runs plus 26 tackles) in a 29-16 win over St George Illawarra.
The Vodafone Warriors’ bench forwards made more than 100 tackles between them in the Parramatta win. Apart from Satae, Mannering finished with 36 tackles, Afoa 30 and Tevaga 19.
The Vodafone Warriors, who have remained in the top three all season so far, head into the South Sydney contest with an 8-3 win-loss run after 11 rounds, a season-opening effort bettered only once in the club’s 24 seasons in the competition (in 2002).
While they’re third this week, the Rabbitohs have surged into fourth spot on the back of three consecutive wins. Along with the Vodafone Warriors, they’re the only other side to beat competition leader St George Illawarra so far.
In the opening round this season the Vodafone Warriors not only beat Souths 32-20 to win in Perth for the first time but also snapped a run of six losses to the Rabbitohs since 2013.
In 32 previous encounters, the Vodafone Warriors have a 19-13 advantage over Souths.
VODAFONE WARRIORS v SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS
7.30pm, Saturday, May 26, 2018
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
Referees: Grant Atkins and Phil Henderson
1 ROGER TUIVASA-SHECK (c)
2 DAVID FUSITU’A
3 PETA HIKU
4 SOLOMONE KATA
5 KEN MAUMALO
6 BLAKE GREEN
7 MASON LINO
8 JAMES GAVET
9 ISSAC LUKE
10 AGNATIUS PAASI
11 SIMON MANNERING
12 TOHU HARRIS
13 ADAM BLAIR
14 JAZZ TEVAGA
15 CHRIS SATAE
16 BUNTY AFOA
17 ISAIAH PAPALI’I
18 GERARD BEALE
20 KARL LAWTON
21 ALBERT VETE
22 ANTHONY GELLING
HEAD COACH | STEPHEN KEARNEY