Offseason signing Euan Aitken is in line to make just his second appearance for the Vodafone Warriors when they face the in-form Parramatta Eels in Sunday’s NRL Magic Round encounter at Suncorp Stadium (1.50pm kick-off local time; 3.50p, NZT).
And in a double boost Aitken’s fellow new signing Ben Murdoch-Masila comes back into the second row after missing Sunday’s 32-38 loss to Manly.
The Vodafone Warriors began their 2021 campaign with the 25-year-old Aitken and vastly experienced Peta Hiku as their first-choice centres combination but have been able to use them only once together and for a total of just five appearances between them in the first nine rounds.
Aitken needed ankle surgery after the 19-6 win over the Titans, forcing him to miss the last eight matches, while Hiku is now out for the season following a shoulder operation. On top of that other centre options Adam Pompey, Marcelo Montoya and Paul Turner have also had injury issues, the since-departed Turner another gone for the season with a shoulder injury.
Fullback for Warriors is number 1 Roger Tuivasa-SheckFullback for Eels is number 1 Clinton Gutherson
Winger for Warriors is number 4 Rocco BerryWinger for Eels is number 2 Maika Sivo
Centre for Warriors is number 3 Adam PompeyCentre for Eels is number 3 Tom Opacic
Centre for Warriors is number 22 Euan AitkenCentre for Eels is number 4 Waqa Blake
Winger for Warriors is number 5 Ken MaumaloWinger for Eels is number 5 Blake Ferguson
Five-Eighth for Warriors is number 6 Kodi NikorimaFive-Eighth for Eels is number 6 Jakob Arthur
Halfback for Warriors is number 7 Chanel Harris-TavitaHalfback for Eels is number 7 Mitchell Moses
Prop for Warriors is number 8 Jamayne Taunoa-BrownProp for Eels is number 8 Reagan Campbell-Gillard
Hooker for Warriors is number 9 Wayde EganHooker for Eels is number 9 Reed Mahoney
Prop for Warriors is number 14 Jazz TevagaProp for Eels is number 10 Junior Paulo
2nd Row for Warriors is number 12 Ben Murdoch-Masila2nd Row for Eels is number 11 Isaiah Papali'i
2nd Row for Warriors is number 18 Bayley Sironen2nd Row for Eels is number 12 Ryan Matterson
Lock for Warriors is number 13 Tohu HarrisLock for Eels is number 13 Nathan Brown
Interchange for Warriors is number 11 Josh CurranInterchange for Eels is number 14 Oregon Kaufusi
Interchange for Warriors is number 15 Leeson Ah MauInterchange for Eels is number 15 Shaun Lane
Interchange for Warriors is number 16 Bunty AfoaInterchange for Eels is number 16 Ray Stone
Interchange for Warriors is number 17 Reece WalshInterchange for Eels is number 17 Bryce Cartwright
Reserve for Warriors is number 20 Jack MurchieReserve for Eels is number 19 Keegan Hipgrave
- Referee: Ashley Klein
- Touch Judge: Jon Stone
- Touch Judge: Kasey Badger
- Senior Review Official: Chris Butler
In his only appearance so far Aitken, despite being hampered by his ankle complaint, had 13 runs for 133 metres, three tackle breaks and 16 tackles without a miss.
Vodafone Warriors head coach Nathan Brown has again listed Aitken in jersey #22 as he did for last week’s clash against North Queensland but he’s on target for his comeback.
Murdoch-Masila’s explosiveness and presence was severely missed against the Sea Eagles last week. Ruled out after a head knock in the North Queensland match, the big man has been in impressive form in his return to the NRL after six seasons in the Super League.
While he has been used off the interchange bench six times and has started just twice, he has already scored four tries, averaged 76 metres a game, made five line breaks, two off loads and 13 tackle breaks while he has also made 123 tackles with only four misses. His average metres per game is well ahead of the 52 a game her averaged in his time with the Wests Tigers and 42 with Penrith.
After being named in #21 last week but ultimately coming into the starting line-up, Chanel Harris-Tavita is at halfback for his second match back from his foot surgery.
In making his return against Manly, Harris-Tavita had a try-scoring double. In a statistical quirk, his six career tries so far have all come through braces starting with two against the Raiders in 2019 and two against Parramatta last season.
The Vodafone Warriors face a red-hot Parramatta side this week which has lost only once to lie second to Penrith on the ladder. That reverse was against St George Illawarra in the fifth round while their eight victories include a 16-12 victory over Melbourne and a 31-18 win against the Sydney Roosters last week.
The Vodafone Warriors sit eighth on the table with a four wins-five losses start to the year. They’re coming off a 32-38 defeat by the Sea Eagles, the 32 points scored coming close to the club record for the most points scored in a loss (34-42 away to Penrith in 2006).
VODAFONE WARRIORS v PARRAMATTA EELS
1.50pm, Sunday, May 16, 2021
Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
1 ROGER TUIVASA-SHECK (c)
2 EDWARD KOSI
3 ADAM POMPEY
4 ROCCO BERRY
5 KEN MAUMALO
6 KODI NIKORIMA
7 CHANEL HARRIS-TAVITA
8 JAMAYNE TAUNOA-BROWN
9 WAYDE EGAN
10 KANE EVANS
11 JOSH CURRAN
12 BEN MURDOCH-MASILA
13 TOHU HARRIS
14 JAZZ TEVAGA
15 LEESON AH MAU
16 BUNTY AFOA
17 REECE WALSH
18 BAYLEY SIRONEN
20 JACK MURCHIE
21 ELIESA KATOA
22 EUAN AITKEN
HEAD COACH | NATHAN BROWN