Vodafone Warriors head coach Stephen Kearney has confirmed more changes to an already vastly rearranged line-up for the club’s first match of the revived 2020 NRL season against St George Illawarra at Central Coast Stadium in Gosford today (3.00pm kick-off local time; 5.00pm NZT).
New signing Jack Murchie will become Vodafone Warrior #244 after being brought onto the interchange for this third-round encounter only nine days after joining the club from the Canberra Raiders.
His club debut will be the big back rower's fourth NRL outing.
Murchie's inclusion has come about after experienced middle forward Lachlan Burr was ruled out yesterday after suffering a head knock in Thursday's training session.
With Burr out, Adam Blair switches from loose forward to start in the front row, Isaiah Papali'i moves from the second row to loose forward and rookie Eliesa Katoa comes of the bench to start in the second row.
In Tuesday Kearney confirmed seasoned Kiwi international Gerard Beale's return in the centres in his comeback from his patella injury while fellow outside backs Patrick Herbert and Peta Hiku also came back into the side after missing the second-round clash against Canberra in March on compassionate grounds.
Beale, Hiku and Herbert have replaced Adam Pompey, the injured Adam Keighran and centre David Fusitu’a, who has been in quarantine after arriving late in Australia.
There’s a fourth backline change with Kiwi play maker Kodi Nikorima named to pair Blake Green in the halves.
Match: Warriors v Dragons
Round 3 -
Fullback for Warriors is number 1 Roger Tuivasa-SheckFullback for Dragons is number 1 Matthew Dufty
Winger for Warriors is number 2 Patrick HerbertWinger for Dragons is number 2 Jordan Pereira
Centre for Warriors is number 3 Peta HikuCentre for Dragons is number 3 Brayden Wiliame
Centre for Warriors is number 4 Gerard BealeCentre for Dragons is number 4 Zac Lomax
Winger for Warriors is number 5 Ken MaumaloWinger for Dragons is number 5 Mikaele Ravalawa
Five-Eighth for Warriors is number 6 Kodi NikorimaFive-Eighth for Dragons is number 6 Corey Norman
Halfback for Warriors is number 7 Blake GreenHalfback for Dragons is number 7 Ben Hunt
Prop for Warriors is number 10 Jamayne Taunoa-BrownProp for Dragons is number 8 Korbin Sims
Hooker for Warriors is number 9 Wayde EganHooker for Dragons is number 9 Cameron McInnes
Prop for Warriors is number 13 Adam BlairProp for Dragons is number 10 Paul Vaughan
2nd Row for Warriors is number 12 Tohu Harris2nd Row for Dragons is number 11 Tyson Frizell
2nd Row for Warriors is number 17 Eliesa Katoa2nd Row for Dragons is number 12 Tariq Sims
Lock for Warriors is number 11 Isaiah Papali'iLock for Dragons is number 13 James Graham
Interchange for Warriors is number 14 Karl LawtonInterchange for Dragons is number 14 Josh Kerr
Interchange for Warriors is number 15 King VuniyayawaInterchange for Dragons is number 15 Blake Lawrie
Interchange for Warriors is number 16 Agnatius PaasiInterchange for Dragons is number 16 Tyrell Fuimaono
Interchange for Warriors is number 22 Jack MurchieInterchange for Dragons is number 17 Euan Aitken
- Referee: Chris Sutton
- Touch Judge: Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski
With Leeson Ah Mau sidelined after pectoral surgery, rookie Jamayne Taunoa-Brown starts at prop. Nikorima, Taunoa-Brown and Papali’i all move into the starting line-up after being on the interchange in the 6-20 loss to the Raiders in Robina on March 21.
Brought onto the bench are prop Agnatius Paasi, who was injured for the Canberra match, and hooker Karl Lawton. King Vuniyayawa, used in the opening two rounds, remains on the interchange.
The match has special significance for Harris, who’ll be making his 150th career appearance.
With the NRL moving away from the established two-referee system, Chris Sutton has been named to control the match.