Vodafone Warriors head coach Stephen Kearney has retained an unchanged playing squad for Friday night’s 10th-round NRL match against Penrith at Panthers Stadium in Sydney (6.00pm kick-off local time; 8.00pm NZT).
Of the top 17 named, hooker Nate Roache (back), second rower Tohu Harris (knee) and utility forward Jazz Tevaga (foot) weren’t on the field this morning as the team trained for the first time since Saturday night’s memorable 26-18 Magic Round victory over St George Illawarra.
However, Kearney is hopeful all three will come through training this week to take their places in a side which scored 20 unanswered second half points to beat the Dragons at Suncorp Stadium.
The clash against St George Illawarra was the first time since the opening round of the season that the Vodafone Warriors had lined up as originally named 1-17.
This week’s selection leaves the club’s two most experienced players – Adam Blair and Issac Luke – among the four on the extended bench along with Gerard Beale and Chanel Harris-Tavita.
Blair’s anticipated 300th career appearance is set to be pushed out another week should the originally selected 17 take the field on Friday. He’s on 297 games at the moment.
The Vodafone Warriors head to Penrith on Thursday after putting together an impressive second half against the Dragons, one in which they failed to complete just one set (17 from 18) and ran at 91 per cent for the match (30 from 33 sets).
The outside backs scored all four tries in the second spell, left centre Peta Hiku with two and wings Ken Maumalo and David Fusitu’a with one each. Maumalo now has seven tries in the first nine rounds, already level with the best return he’s had in a season (seven in 23 games in 2017).
The Vodafone Warriors are 12th on the ladder on six points while the Panthers are 15th on four points after a 4-30 defeat by the Wests Tigers last Friday night, their fifth loss on end.
The Panthers enjoy a handy 24-17 winning advantage over the Vodafone Warriors in 42 matches between the two clubs (with one draw) since 1995. At home, Penrith has a 13-7 edge with one draw and hasn’t lost to the Vodafone Warriors at Panthers Stadium since 2012.
Seven of the last nine meetings have ended in Penrith victories, the only two exceptions coming at Mount Smart Stadium last year and in 2016.
The last time the teams met Penrith prevailed in 27-12 in the week one finals encounter at ANZ Stadium last September.
VODAFONE WARRIORS v PENRITH PANTHERS
6.00pm, Friday, May 17, 2019
Panthers Stadium, Penrith
Referees: Henry Perenara and Jon Stone
1 ROGER TUIVASA-SHECK (c)
2 DAVID FUSITU’A
3 PETA HIKU
4 PATRICK HERBERT
5 KEN MAUMALO
6 KODI NIKORIMA
7 BLAKE GREEN
8 AGNATIUS PAASI
9 NATHANIEL ROACHE
10 LEESON AH MAU
11 ISAIAH PAPALI’I
12 TOHU HARRIS
13 LACHLAN BURR
14 JAZZ TEVAGA
15 BUNTY AFOA
16 LIGI SAO
17 KARL LAWTON
18 GERARD BEALE
20 CHANEL HARRIS-TAVITA
22 ISSAC LUKE
23 ADAM BLAIR
HEAD COACH | STEPHEN KEARNEY