The Vodafone Warriors will once again line up as selected for their season-ending NRL encounter with Manly Warringah at Central Coast Stadium in Gosford today (2.00pm kick-off local time; 5.00pm NZT).
Gerard Beale and Tom Ale were the two players to drop out of the squad 24 hours ahead of the game while Josh Curran and Tom Ale were omitted an hour before kick-off.
The contest doubles as a farewell for veteran forward Adam Blair who will be making his 331st and last NRL match after announcing his retirement yesterday. Blair and other departing players will be acknowledged after the match.
Front rower Jamayne Taunoa-Brown and winger Patrick Herbert have been recalled for the season finale while Peta Hiku replaces injured captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck at fullback.
Taunoa-Brown is on the interchange after serving a one-game suspension with Herbert returning from a hamstring injury-enforced five-game absence.
After scoring two first half tries in the centres, the versatile Hiku – the team’s top try scorer with eight – was moved to fullback after Tuivasa-Sheck was forced off with a hamstring strain in the 59th minute of last Sunday’s 14-26 loss to Canberra.
Interim head coach Todd Payten has opted for Hiku in a role he has started in 18 previous times in his 142-game NRL career, the most recent in the 26-16 eighth-round win over the Brisbane Broncos when he made 161 metres from 18 runs, had a line break assist and a try assist.
Match: Warriors v Sea Eagles
Round 20 -
Fullback for Warriors is number 1 Peta HikuFullback for Sea Eagles is number 1 Tevita Funa
Winger for Warriors is number 2 Adam PompeyWinger for Sea Eagles is number 2 Abbas Miski
Centre for Warriors is number 3 Adam KeighranCentre for Sea Eagles is number 3 Brad Parker
Centre for Warriors is number 4 Hayze PerhamCentre for Sea Eagles is number 4 Morgan Harper
Winger for Warriors is number 5 Patrick HerbertWinger for Sea Eagles is number 5 Reuben Garrick
Five-Eighth for Warriors is number 6 Kodi NikorimaFive-Eighth for Sea Eagles is number 6 Lachlan Croker
Halfback for Warriors is number 7 Chanel Harris-TavitaHalfback for Sea Eagles is number 7 Daly Cherry-Evans
Prop for Warriors is number 8 Lachlan BurrProp for Sea Eagles is number 8 Taniela Paseka
Hooker for Warriors is number 9 Karl LawtonHooker for Sea Eagles is number 9 Danny Levi
Prop for Warriors is number 12 Tohu HarrisProp for Sea Eagles is number 10 Martin Taupau
2nd Row for Warriors is number 10 Isaiah Papali'i2nd Row for Sea Eagles is number 11 Corey Waddell
2nd Row for Warriors is number 11 Eliesa Katoa2nd Row for Sea Eagles is number 12 Curtis Sironen
Lock for Warriors is number 13 Jazz TevagaLock for Sea Eagles is number 13 Jake Trbojevic
Interchange for Warriors is number 14 Wayde EganInterchange for Sea Eagles is number 14 Albert Hopoate
Interchange for Warriors is number 15 Adam BlairInterchange for Sea Eagles is number 15 Morgan Boyle
Interchange for Warriors is number 16 Jack MurchieInterchange for Sea Eagles is number 16 Sean Keppie
Interchange for Warriors is number 17 Jamayne Taunoa-BrownInterchange for Sea Eagles is number 17 Haumole Olakau'atu
- Referee: Adam Gee
- Touch Judge: Chris Sutton
- Touch Judge: Drew Oultram
- Senior Review Official: Ashley Klein
In his rookie season, Taunoa-Brown had played every match until last week. Used predominantly as a starting prop, he has averaged 92 metres and 27 tackles a game in an impressive start to his career.
The explosive Herbert hit a rich vein of form in the wins over Wests Tigers and Manly plus the gritty loss to competition leader Penrith, scoring a double against the Sea Eagles and another try against the Panthers but was then sidelined by a serious hamstring injury leading up to the 15th-round encounter with Bulldogs.
In bringing Herbert back into the line-up, Payten has shifted Hayze Perham into the centres where he was used four games straight against Canterbury Bankstown, Newcastle, Parramatta and Cronulla.
There’s one change to the starting forward pack with rookie Eliesa Katoa named to start and Jack Murchie going to the interchange; it had been hoped Katoa would make his comeback from a hand injury last Sunday – he was selected on the bench – but he was ruled out 24 hours before the Canberra clash.
Harris will cap an exceptional personal season with twin honours on Sunday. He will lead the side in Tuivasa-Sheck’s absence in what will also be his milestone 50th appearance for the Vodafone Warriors since joining the club in 2018.
While retaining his familiar #12 jersey, Harris has been switched to a middle forward’s role with exceptional success this season. He has topped 200 metres in five games (averaging 167 a match) while making 813 tackles (the fifth most of all players), an average of 43 tackles a game.
He and veteran forward Adam Blair will achieve the distinction of being the only players to appear in all 20 of the Vodafone Warriors’ games this season.
- With daylight saving beginning in New Zealand on Sunday, the match kicks off at 5.00pm NZT.