Sporting their stunning 2021 Indigenous kit, the Vodafone Warriors are set to welcome back front rower Addin Fonua-Blake from a 10-week injury lay-off for their 14th-round NRL encounter with the Melbourne Storm at Central Coast Stadium in Gosford on Sunday (2.00pm kick-off local time; 4.00pm NZT).
The 25-year-old Mate Ma’a Tonga international hasn’t played since being forced off the field with a serious leg injury just 13 minutes into only his fourth appearance for the club against the Sydney Roosters on April 4.
One of the biggest signings in the Vodafone Warriors’ history, Fonua-Blake made a huge impact in his start with the club averaging 173 metres a game in his first three outings.
After only a few minutes against the Roosters, he has since missed the last eight games.
Vodafone Warriors head coach Nathan Brown indicated before last weekend’s bye that the influential Fonua-Blake was on target to return against the Storm and has now named him on the side’s extended bench for Sunday’s Michael Moore Trophy battle.
Fullback for Warriors is number 1 Roger Tuivasa-SheckFullback for Storm is number 1 Nicholas Hynes
Winger for Warriors is number 5 Edward KosiWinger for Storm is number 5 Josh Addo-Carr
Centre for Warriors is number 2 Marcelo MontoyaCentre for Storm is number 3 Reimis Smith
Centre for Warriors is number 3 Euan AitkenCentre for Storm is number 4 Justin Olam
Winger for Warriors is number 21 Ken MaumaloWinger for Storm is number 18 Dean Ieremia
Five-Eighth for Warriors is number 6 Kodi NikorimaFive-Eighth for Storm is number 6 Cameron Munster
Halfback for Warriors is number 7 Chanel Harris-TavitaHalfback for Storm is number 7 Jahrome Hughes
Prop for Warriors is number 10 Leeson Ah MauProp for Storm is number 8 Jesse Bromwich
Hooker for Warriors is number 9 Wayde EganHooker for Storm is number 9 Brandon Smith
Prop for Warriors is number 17 Ben Murdoch-MasilaProp for Storm is number 15 Tui Kamikamica
2nd Row for Warriors is number 11 Bayley Sironen2nd Row for Storm is number 12 Felise Kaufusi
2nd Row for Warriors is number 12 Tohu Harris2nd Row for Storm is number 19 Tom Eisenhuth
Lock for Warriors is number 13 Josh CurranLock for Storm is number 13 Dale Finucane
Interchange for Warriors is number 14 Jack MurchieInterchange for Storm is number 14 Harry Grant
Interchange for Warriors is number 15 Kane EvansInterchange for Storm is number 17 Aaron Pene
Interchange for Warriors is number 16 Bunty AfoaInterchange for Storm is number 21 Chris Lewis
Interchange for Warriors is number 23 Addin Fonua-BlakeInterchange for Storm is number 22 Trent Loiero
Reserve for Warriors is number 18 Jazz TevagaReserve for Storm is number 20 Marion Seve
- Referee: Matt Cecchin
- Touch Judge: Darian Furner
- Touch Judge: Jon Stone
- Senior Review Official: Alan Shortall
His return would add another layer to a huge day for the Vodafone Warriors as they host their Great Big Kiwi Coast Party at Central Coast Stadium, an event which is headlined by legendary Kiwi rock band Dragon kicking off a concert at 12.00pm.
On the field the Vodafone Warriors will wear their Indigenous Round strip which they were unable to unveil two weeks ago due to a clash with North Queensland’s Indigenous kit.
The day will also be marked by a significant milestone when Roger Tuivasa-Sheck leads the Vodafone Warriors for the 100th time, becoming only the second player to achieve the mark behind former captain Simon Mannering.
After making his 100th appearance for the club overall in the win over St George Illawarra in April, Tuivasa-Sheck returns to fullback this week replacing rookie Reece Walsh, who is serving a one-match suspension.
Also suspended is regular centre Adam Pompey, paving the way for three-game rookie Rocco Berry to return after a two-game absence. He was ruled out of the Wests Tigers encounter after a head knock and then was unused as 18th man against North Queensland.
The 20-year-old Berry was outstanding for feeder club Redcliffe in their 34-24 victory over the Falcons in the Intrust Super Cup on Saturday. He scored the first two tries of the game and laid on a double for fellow Vodafone Warriors rookie Edward Kosi finishing with 118 metres from 11 runs, two line breaks, two line break assists, two try assists three tackle and two off loads plus 14 tackles.
Kosi comes in on to the right wing to replace Tuivasa-Sheck. Kosi’s first two NRL matches were against North Queensland and Manly early last month. As well as scoring two tries for the Dolphins last weekend, he ran 201 metres from 16 runs.
Brown has named a much-changed pack with Leeson Ah Mau coming off the bench into the starting front row in a swap with Kane Evans. Tohu Harris and Bayley Sironen are listed in the second row, Harris moving from his #13 role and Sironen back from injury. Also returning from the casualty ward is Josh Curran, named to start at loose forward in his sixth appearance of the season.
Jack Murchie moves to the interchange joining Evans, Bunty Afoa and the team’s top try scorer Ben Murdoch-Masila (six tries so far).
Fonua-Blake, Jazz Tevaga, Sean O’Sullivan and Ken Maumalo make up the extended bench.