Hooker Wayde Egan and second rower Eliesa Katoa have both recovered from injury to be named in the starting line-up for the Vodafone Warriors’ season-opening NRL encounter with Gold Coast at Central Coast Stadium in Gosford on Saturday (3.00pm kick-off local time; 5.00pm NZT).
Katoa, so impressive in his rookie season in 2020, comes back from cheekbone surgery to join new signing Bayley Sironen in the second row while Egan is set to start after being forced off the field with an elbow injury early in the club’s only trial against the Titans in Lismore on February 27.
Their availability has enabled first-year Vodafone Warriors head coach Nathan Brown to name his strongest starting line-up which features two of the club’s other new recruits centre Euan Aitken and prop Addin Fonua-Blake while the powerful Ben Murdoch-Masila is on the interchange.
Making their club debuts, Aitken becomes Vodafone Warrior #251, Fonua-Blake #252, Sironen #253 and Murdoch-Masila #254.
After returning home early last season, Ken Maumalo and David Fusitu’a are reunited with captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck as a formidable back three with the skilful Peta Hiku in the centres with Aitken.
Fullback for Warriors is number 1 Roger Tuivasa-SheckFullback for Titans is number 1 Alexander Brimson
Winger for Warriors is number 2 David Fusitu'aWinger for Titans is number 2 Anthony Don
Centre for Warriors is number 3 Euan AitkenCentre for Titans is number 3 Brian Kelly
Centre for Warriors is number 4 Peta HikuCentre for Titans is number 4 Patrick Herbert
Winger for Warriors is number 5 Ken MaumaloWinger for Titans is number 5 Corey Thompson
Five-Eighth for Warriors is number 6 Kodi NikorimaFive-Eighth for Titans is number 6 Ashley Taylor
Halfback for Warriors is number 7 Chanel Harris-TavitaHalfback for Titans is number 7 Jamal Fogarty
Prop for Warriors is number 8 Addin Fonua-BlakeProp for Titans is number 8 Jarrod Wallace
Hooker for Warriors is number 9 Wayde EganHooker for Titans is number 9 Mitch Rein
Prop for Warriors is number 10 Jamayne Taunoa-BrownProp for Titans is number 10 Moeaki Fotuaika
2nd Row for Warriors is number 11 Eliesa Katoa2nd Row for Titans is number 11 Kevin Proctor
2nd Row for Warriors is number 12 Bayley Sironen2nd Row for Titans is number 12 David Fifita
Lock for Warriors is number 13 Tohu HarrisLock for Titans is number 13 Tino Fa'asuamaleaui
Interchange for Warriors is number 14 Jazz TevagaInterchange for Titans is number 14 Tyrone Peachey
Interchange for Warriors is number 15 Ben Murdoch-MasilaInterchange for Titans is number 15 Sam Lisone
Interchange for Warriors is number 16 Leeson Ah MauInterchange for Titans is number 16 Jaimin Jolliffe
Interchange for Warriors is number 17 Bunty AfoaInterchange for Titans is number 17 Erin Clark
- Referee: Ashley Klein
- Touch Judge: Phil Henderson
- Touch Judge: Jon Stone
- Senior Review Official: Steve Chiddy
Brown can also call on 2020’s season-ending regular halves combination of Kodi Nikorima and Chanel Harris-Tavita, the club’s rookie of the year Jamayne Taunoa-Brown at prop and Simon Mannering Medal winner Tohu Harris at loose forward.
Set to make up the game day bench are Murdoch-Masila and Jazz Tevaga plus the vastly experienced Leeson Ah Mau and Bunty Afoa, who are both returning from serious injuries which ruined their 2020 campaigns.
Fonua-Blake will make his 98th career appearance on Saturday while Maumalo will play his 96th and Tuivasa-Sheck will take his club tally to 95.
The Vodafone Warriors and Titans go head-to-head for the second time in two weeks after battling out a 12-12 draw in their trial in Lismore.
In the only encounter between the two sides last season, Gold Coast won 16-12 in contentious circumstances in Robina.
The Vodafone Warriors have an 18-9 record overall against Gold Coast including 19 wins in the last 22 contests.
VODAFONE WARRIORS v GOLD COAST TITANS
3.00pm, Saturday, March 9, 2021
Central Coast Stadium, Gosford
1 ROGER TUIVASA-SHECK (c)
2 DAVID FUSITU’A
3 EUAN AITKEN
4 PETA HIKU
5 KEN MAUMALO
6 KODI NIKORIMA
7 CHANEL HARRIS-TAVITA
8 ADDIN FONUA-BLAKE
9 WAYDE EGAN
10 JAMAYNE TAUNOA-BROWN
11 ELIESA KATOA
12 BAYLEY SIRONEN
13 TOHU HARRIS
14 JAZZ TEVAGA
15 BEN MURDOCH-MASILA
16 LEESON AH MAU
17 BUNTY AFOA
18 ADAM POMPEY
20 SEAN O’SULLIVAN
21 TOM ALE
22 JOSH CURRAN
HEAD COACH | NATHAN BROWN