Vodafone Warriors head coach Stephen Kearney has named the same line-up used in the golden point draw against Brisbane for this Friday night’s 18th-round NRL ‘home’ game against the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium (8.00pm kick-off).
The match will be the Vodafone Warriors’ 10th in the Capital and the first since beating the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 24-20 there in 2016.
Only captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, David Fusitu’a, Sam Lisone and Issac Luke remain from the side that prevailed against the Bulldogs while Leeson Ah Mau was in the St George Illawarra line-up that beat the Vodafone Warriors in Wellington in 2015 and Adam Blair was in the Wests Tigers side beaten 42-18 in 2014.
The encounter against the Sharks, the first of four Friday night matches for the Vodafone Warriors in the next seven weeks, will be a milestone occasion for livewire loose forward Jazz Tevaga.
His fourth consecutive starting appearance will be his 50th career game as he backs up from a gruelling 90-minute contribution in last Saturday night’s 18-18 golden point draw with the Broncos.
Tevaga (23) made 184 metres from 22 runs and a phenomenal 72 tackles in what was the club’s fourth extra time draw. The last was a 32-32 deadlock against Penrith in 2009 while the Vodafone Warriors also drew 14-14 with Melbourne that same season and 31-31 with the Sydney Roosters in 2007.
The Vodafone Warriors ran for 2443 metres against Brisbane last Saturday night, 500-plus more than the home side. Tuivasa-Sheck made an NRL record 367 metres from an astonishing 34 carries and now leads all players for most runs this season with 313. He is second for most metres overall with 3014, just behind team-mate Ken Maumalo (3088).
Maumalo, Peta Hiku and Kodi Nikorima all topped 200 metres in a dominant left edge while second rower Adam Blair (188) wasn’t far away on the same edge.
The same interchange combination of Lachlan Burr, Sam Lisone, Bunty Afoa and Chanel Harris-Tavita has been selected while those included on the extended bench are Adam Pompey - a regular in the club's Canterbury Cup side - Ligi Sao, Blake Ayshford and Chris Satae.
The Vodafone Warriors are 12th on the ladder on 15 points, just one behind the Sharks, who sit ninth on points for and against followed by North Queensland and Wests Tigers.
Cronulla has a 22-16 advantage in 38 games between the two clubs while the record is 9-9 in 18 games played at Mount Smart Stadium. The Sharks have beaten the Vodafone Warriors in the last four meetings.
VODAFONE WARRIORS v CRONULLA-SUTHERLAND SHARKS
8.00pm, Friday, July 19, 2019
Westpac Stadium, Wellington
1 ROGER TUIVASA-SHECK (c)
2 DAVID FUSITU’A
3 PETA HIKU
4 GERARD BEALE
5 KEN MAUMALO
6 KODI NIKORIMA
7 BLAKE GREEN
8 AGNASTIUS PAASI
9 ISSAC LUKE
10 LEESON AH MAU
11 ADAM BLAIR
12 ISAIAH PAPALI’I
13 JAZZ TEVAGA
14 LACHLAN BURR
15 SAM LISONE
16 BUNTY AFOA
17 CHANEL HARRIS-TAVITA
18 ADAM POMPEY
20 LIGI SAO
21 BLAKE AYSHFORD
22 CHRIS SATAE
HEAD COACH | STEPHEN KEARNEY