Vodafone Warriors head coach Stephen Kearney has recalled veteran hooker Issac Luke, experienced wing David Fusitu’a and rookie centre Patrick Herbert for Saturday’s 23rd-round NRL clash against the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks at PointsBet Stadium (3.00pm kick-off local time; 5.00pm NZT).
Luke returns from a three-match suspension while Fusitu’a makes his comeback from a hamstring injury which has kept him out of the club’s last five matches against Cronulla, Parramatta, Canberra, Manly and the Sydney Roosters.
Herbert hasn’t played at NRL level for almost two months as he recovered from a hamstring complaint. He was out for five weeks before returning via the Canterbury Cup side in the last two rounds.
Luke and Fusitu’a will both be playing for just the 15th time this season while Herbert will be lining up for the eighth time since his debut against Melbourne on Anzac Day.
He comes in for the vastly experienced Gerard Beale, who broke the patella in his left knee in Sunday’s loss to the Roosters. Makeshift dummy half Jazz Tevaga reverts to his preferred role at loose forward and rookie Adam Pompey makes way for Fusitu’a.
With Tevaga at loose forward, Lachlan Burr replaces Ligi Sao on the interchange where he joins Bunty Afoa, Sam Lisone and Kodi Nikorima. Included on the extended bench are Pompey, Sao, Adam Keighran and Blake Ayshford.
The Vodafone Warriors have stayed in Sydney this week to prepare for the contest with the Sharks.
The match will be prop Agnatius Paasi’s 99th career appearance leaving him on track to play his 100th game in the Vodafone Warriors’ final home game of the season against the South Sydney Rabbitohs at Mount Smart Stadium on Friday, August 30. Nikorima will play his 98th match this week.
The Vodafone Warriors lie 12th on the ladder on 19 points while the Sharks are eighth on 22 points after an 18-12 win over St George Illawarra.
In the 39 previous meetings between the two sides, the Vodafone Warriors have 17 wins to Cronulla’s 22, having won the most recent encounter 19-18 in Wellington last month. They’re 6-13 behind in away clashes not including the 2002 preliminary final victory at ANZ Stadium.
Match: Sharks v Warriors
Round 23 -
Fullback for Sharks is number 1 Josh DuganFullback for Warriors is number 1 Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
Winger for Sharks is number 2 Sosaia FekiWinger for Warriors is number 2 David Fusitu'a
Centre for Sharks is number 3 Bronson XerriCentre for Warriors is number 3 Peta Hiku
Centre for Sharks is number 4 Josh MorrisCentre for Warriors is number 4 Patrick Herbert
Winger for Sharks is number 5 Ronaldo MulitaloWinger for Warriors is number 5 Ken Maumalo
Five-Eighth for Sharks is number 6 Shaun JohnsonFive-Eighth for Warriors is number 6 Chanel Harris-Tavita
Halfback for Sharks is number 7 Chad TownsendHalfback for Warriors is number 7 Blake Green
Prop for Sharks is number 8 Aaron WoodsProp for Warriors is number 10 Leeson Ah Mau
Hooker for Sharks is number 9 Jayden BraileyHooker for Warriors is number 9 Issac Luke
Prop for Sharks is number 10 Matt PriorProp for Warriors is number 14 Lachlan Burr
2nd Row for Sharks is number 11 Briton Nikora2nd Row for Warriors is number 11 Adam Blair
2nd Row for Sharks is number 12 Wade Graham2nd Row for Warriors is number 12 Isaiah Papali'i
Lock for Sharks is number 13 Paul GallenLock for Warriors is number 13 Jazz Tevaga
Interchange for Sharks is number 14 Kurt CapewellInterchange for Warriors is number 8 Agnatius Paasi
Interchange for Sharks is number 15 Jack WilliamsInterchange for Warriors is number 15 Sam Lisone
Interchange for Sharks is number 16 Andrew FifitaInterchange for Warriors is number 17 Kodi Nikorima
Interchange for Sharks is number 17 Braden Hamlin-UeleInterchange for Warriors is number 22 Blake Ayshford
- Referee: Gerard Sutton
- Referee: Gavin Badger