Hooker Issac Luke will be the only player from the Vodafone Warriors’ NRL squad missing from the line-up for the club’s second and final preseason trial against Wests Tigers at the Northland Events Centre in Whangarei on Saturday (5.00pm kick-off).
While head coach Stephen Kearney is yet to name the line-up for the ‘Northland Clash’, he confirmed after today’s field session that Luke was the only player ruled out.
However, Kearney added he was optimistic the Kiwi international would be available for the season-opening clash against the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
“Bully (Luke) won’t be there this week,” he said.
“He’s ticking along as well as I would like. I’m pretty comfortable that he would be potentially right for round one. The next week and a half is critical for him.”
While Luke is unavailable, local fans and those travelling north from Auckland can expect to see the rest of the Vodafone Warriors’ top players including captain and 2018 Dally M Medal winner Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Northland born and bred veteran Adam Blair, key playmaker Blake Green, new signings Leeson Ah Mau, Adam Keighran and Lachlan Burr plus other Kiwis Ken Maumalo, Peta Hiku, Gerard Beale, Tohu Harris, Agnatius Paasi and Isaiah Papali’i, Tonga internationals David Fusitu’a and Solomone Kata and Samoa Test forwards Jazz Tevaga, Bunty Afoa and Sam Lisone. Set to start his second straight trial is hooker Nate Roache, who impressed so much in his comeback appearance against the Melbourne Storm last Friday night after being side-lined for the whole of 2018 following back surgery.
Standoff Chanel Harris-Tavita and seasoned centre Blake Ayshford, who both featured in the 12-6 trial win over the Storm, are also in contention. Keighran, Burr, Papali’i, Lisone and Afoa all played against the Storm, too, while Tevaga was stripped but wasn’t used.
Kearney welcomed the rare opportunity for the Vodafone Warriors to have their two top teams in action on the same day in Whangarei.
“It’s fantastic,” said Kearney.
“The last game I was involved there was when the Kiwis played Samoa in the Four Nations in 2014. That was a wonderful day for rugby league in Northland.
“We have a few boys in Adam (Blair), Paul Turner from our reserve grade and Brody (Tamarua) who are all from up that way. It’s always nice to go back and play in front of grass roots people.”
Five of the Vodafone Warriors’ NRL squad have been named to line up for the Intrust Super Premiership side in its trial against Western Suburbs Magpies in the early game on Saturday (2.15pm kick-off).
Hayze Perham is listed at standoff along with prop Chris Satae, hooker Karl Lawton and back rowers Leivaha Pulu and Ligi Sao; Perham, Satae and Sao all played in the Storm clash.
Many of the rest of the ISP squad were also in Geelong last Friday night – outside backs Paul Turner, Neria Fomai, Adam Pompey, Patrick Herbert and Lewis Soosemea, halfback Api Pewhairangi, prop Tom Ale, second rower Brody Tamarua and interchange hooker Sam Cook.
The other eight players on the bench for the Nathan Cayless-coached side, were involved in the 40-24 ISP trial win over the Canterbury Bulls last Saturday – Clayton Williams, Preston Riki, Phillip Makatoa, Paulos Latu, Israel Ogden, Edward Kosi, Tahi Baggaley and Patrick Elia.
VODAFONE WARRIORS v WESTERN SUBURBS MAGPIES
2.15pm, Saturday, March 2, 2019
Northland Events Centre, Northland
1 PAUL TURNER
2 NERIA FOMAI
3 ADAM POMPEY
4 PATRICK HERBERT
5 LEWIS SOOSEMEA
6 HAYZE PERHAM
7 API PEWHAIRANGI
8 CHRIS SATAE
9 KARL LAWTON
10 TOM ALE
11 BRODY TAMARUA
12 LEIVAHA PULU
13 LIGI SAO
14 SAM COOK
15 CLAYTON WILLIAMS
16 PRESTON RIKI
17 PHILLIP MAKATOA
18 PAULOS LATU
20 ISRAEL OGDEN
21 EDWARD KOSI
22 TAHI BAGGALEY
23 PATRICK ELIA
HEAD COACH | NATHAN CAYLESS