Agnatius Paasi returns from a one-match suspension and fellow prop Chris Satae has been brought onto the interchange for the Vodafone Warriors’ 13th-round NRL encounter with the Melbourne Storm at Mount Smart Stadium on Saturday (5.00pm kick-off).
Paasi missed the 2-8 loss to Brisbane but comes straight back into the starting line-up following the club’s bye last weekend.
While he is back Ligi Sao is out after playing the last three matches against St George Illawarra, Penrith and Brisbane.
Sao was impressive for the Vodafone Warriors in the Canterbury Cup NSW competition on Saturday making 184 metres from 17 carries and 27 tackles against Newtown but he has picked up a one-game ban for a careless high tackle in the match.
That sees the 26-year-old Satae back in the mix for just his second appearance this year and his 15th in total. He was also prominent in the Canterbury Cup side’s 20-20 draw with the Jets with 131 metres from 13 runs plus 34 tackles while the previous week he produced 237 metres from 20 runs and 30 tackles in 59 minutes against the Sea Eagles.
Paasi’s reinstatement results in Bunty Afoa slotting back into his familiar interchange role while Lachlan Burr, who has started in 10 of the team’s 11 matches this year, has been switched to the bench with veteran Adam Blair named at loose forward for his 299th career appearance.
The Storm are leading the competition with a 9-2 record, ranked ahead of South Sydney on points differential.
As usual the Michael Moore Trophy will be on the line. The Vodafone Warriors haven’t held it since beating Melbourne 28-14 in Auckland in 2015 with the Storm sitting on a run of seven consecutive victories including this year’s 13-12 success on Anzac Day.
This will be the 44th contest between the two clubs, the most the Vodafone Warriors have played against any side.
Melbourne holds a 25-16 advantage with two matches drawn but the ledger is just 11-9 its way in battles at Mount Smart Stadium.
VODAFONE WARRIORS v MELBOURNE STORM
5.00pm, Saturday, June 8, 2019
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
Referees: Henry Perenara and Jon Stone
Fullback for Warriors is number 1 Roger Tuivasa-SheckFullback for Storm is number 1 Jahrome Hughes
Winger for Warriors is number 2 David Fusitu'aWinger for Storm is number 2 Suliasi Vunivalu
Centre for Warriors is number 3 Peta HikuCentre for Storm is number 3 Will Chambers
Centre for Warriors is number 18 Gerard BealeCentre for Storm is number 4 Marion Seve
Winger for Warriors is number 5 Ken MaumaloWinger for Storm is number 5 Josh Addo-Carr
Five-Eighth for Warriors is number 6 Kodi NikorimaFive-Eighth for Storm is number 6 Cameron Munster
Halfback for Warriors is number 7 Blake GreenHalfback for Storm is number 7 Brodie Croft
Prop for Warriors is number 8 Agnatius PaasiProp for Storm is number 8 Jesse Bromwich
Hooker for Warriors is number 9 Issac LukeHooker for Storm is number 9 Cameron Smith
Prop for Warriors is number 10 Leeson Ah MauProp for Storm is number 10 Nelson Asofa-Solomona
2nd Row for Warriors is number 11 Isaiah Papali'i2nd Row for Storm is number 11 Felise Kaufusi
2nd Row for Warriors is number 12 Tohu Harris2nd Row for Storm is number 12 Kenneath Bromwich
Lock for Warriors is number 13 Adam BlairLock for Storm is number 13 Dale Finucane
Interchange for Warriors is number 14 Lachlan BurrInterchange for Storm is number 14 Brandon Smith
Interchange for Warriors is number 15 Bunty AfoaInterchange for Storm is number 15 Joe Stimson
Interchange for Warriors is number 16 Chris SataeInterchange for Storm is number 17 Ryan Papenhuyzen
Interchange for Warriors is number 17 Karl LawtonInterchange for Storm is number 23 Christian Welch
- Referee: Henry Perenara
- Referee: Jon Stone
- Touch Judge: Kasey Badger
- Senior Review Official: Jared Maxwell