Wing Ken Maumalo returns from injury and prop James Gavet ends a long wait for his 50th NRL appearance in the Vodafone Warriors’ 19th-round NRL clash against Melbourne at Mount Smart Stadium on Sunday (4.00pm kick-off).
Rookie Kiwi international Maumalo is back from a knee complaint after missing last Sunday’s 26-6 win over Brisbane while Gavet reaches his milestone almost six years since making his first-grade debut late in the 2012 season.
With the Michael Moore Trophy once again at stake, the 42nd match against the Storm will climax the club’s busiest game day of the year when it stages ‘The Great Vodafone Warriors Charity Day’. CLICK HERE FOR FULL STORY.
Maumalo’s reappearance on the left wing is the only change to the starting line-up used in the outstanding victory over the Broncos. Peta Hiku, switched to the left flank after originally being listed at right centre at Suncorp Stadium, has been moved to the interchange to make way for Maumalo. That sees Anthony Gelling out of the 17 but retained on the extended bench.
Another change among the extra players is the inclusion of front rower Bunty Afoa, who has recovered from the elbow injury which forced him off the field against Cronulla on June 29.
Gavet has had a significantly disrupted and prolonged journey to the 50-game mark in a career which has involved stints at four clubs.
His debut for the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs against Brisbane in round 23 in 2012 was his only NRL appearance in two seasons with the Bulldogs. Injury hindered him in 2013.
A one-year stay with Wests Tigers delivered 12 appearances in 2014 before he moved to the Broncos. After playing in the opening round of the 2015 season his campaign was cruelly ended by an ACL knee injury in a training session.
Released from the last season of his contract with Brisbane, the former Vodafone Junior Warrior returned to Auckland, first signed on a trial basis by the Vodafone Warriors and then picked up for the 2016 season.
After making his club debut in round one he finished the year with 10 matches and added 13 last year. Sunday’s battle against the Storm will be his 13th this year.
The Vodafone Warriors sit seventh on the ladder with an 11-6 win-loss record, one of four teams on 24 points just two behind second-placed Melbourne.
The Vodafone Warriors have beaten the Storm 16 times with two draws and 23 losses. In games at Mount Smart Stadium, Melbourne is 10-9 ahead. The Vodafone Warriors’ last win against the Storm was a memorable 28-14 success in Auckland in 2015 with Melbourne winning the last five encounters between the two sides.
VODAFONE WARRIORS v MELBOURNE STORM
4.00pm, Sunday, July 22, 2018
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
1 ROGER TUIVASA-SHECK (c)
2 DAVID FUSITU’A
3 GERARD BEALE
4 SOLOMONE KATA
5 KEN MAUMALO
6 BLAKE GREEN
7 SHAUN JOHNSON
8 JAMES GAVET
9 ISSAC LUKE
10 AGNATIUS PAASI
11 ISAIAH PAPALI’I
12 SIMON MANNERING
13 ADAM BLAIR
14 JAZZ TEVAGA
15 CHRIS SATAE
16 JOSEPH VUNA
17 PETA HIKU
18 MASON LINO
20 KARL LAWTON
21 BUNTY AFOA
22 ANTHONY GELLING
HEAD COACH | STEPHEN KEARNEY