After just a few days in camp, new signing Matt Lodge has been immediately called in to make his club debut in the Vodafone Warriors’ 17th-round NRL encounter with the Cronulla Sutherland Sharks at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium in Sydney on Sunday (4.05pm kick-off local time; 6.05pm NZT).
The other selection features see fullback Reece Walsh and standoff Kodi Nikorima both returning from injury lay-offs along with rookie centre Rocco Berry (hamstring).
The 26-year-old Lodge, released by Brisbane just last Friday, comes straight into the starting line-up as Vodafone Warrior #263 to provide further experience and size to the pack.
Together starting props Addin Fonua-Blake and Lodge will give the Vodafone Warriors one of, if not, the biggest front rows in the club’s history; the 189cm Fonua-Blake weighs in at 123kg, the 191cm Lodge 117kg.
They also deliver a double punch carrying the ball. Fonua-Blake was back to his early-season form last week in his third appearance back from a long injury stint, making 192 metres from 19 runs in 76 minutes on the field; in his last four outings for the Broncos, Lodge clocked up run metre totals of 214, 150, 124 and 161.
Fullback for Sharks is number 1 William KennedyFullback for Warriors is number 1 Reece Walsh
Winger for Sharks is number 2 Sione KatoaWinger for Warriors is number 2 Dallin Watene-Zelezniak
Centre for Sharks is number 4 Jesse RamienCentre for Warriors is number 3 Rocco Berry
Centre for Sharks is number 6 Connor TraceyCentre for Warriors is number 4 Marcelo Montoya
Winger for Sharks is number 5 Ronaldo MulitaloWinger for Warriors is number 5 Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
Five-Eighth for Sharks is number 14 Braydon TrindallFive-Eighth for Warriors is number 6 Kodi Nikorima
Halfback for Sharks is number 7 Shaun JohnsonHalfback for Warriors is number 7 Sean O'Sullivan
Prop for Sharks is number 8 Aiden TolmanProp for Warriors is number 8 Addin Fonua-Blake
Hooker for Sharks is number 9 Blayke BraileyHooker for Warriors is number 9 Wayde Egan
Prop for Sharks is number 10 Aaron WoodsProp for Warriors is number 10 Matthew Lodge
2nd Row for Sharks is number 12 Teig Wilton2nd Row for Warriors is number 11 Eliesa Katoa
2nd Row for Sharks is number 15 Siosifa Talakai2nd Row for Warriors is number 12 Bayley Sironen
Lock for Sharks is number 13 Toby RudolfLock for Warriors is number 13 Jazz Tevaga
Interchange for Sharks is number 11 Briton NikoraInterchange for Warriors is number 15 Leeson Ah Mau
Interchange for Sharks is number 16 Jack WilliamsInterchange for Warriors is number 16 Bunty Afoa
Interchange for Sharks is number 17 Braden Hamlin-UeleInterchange for Warriors is number 17 Ben Murdoch-Masila
Interchange for Sharks is number 19 Mawene HirotiInterchange for Warriors is number 20 Jack Murchie
Reserve for Sharks is number 21 Luke MetcalfReserve for Warriors is number 18 Adam Pompey
- Referee: Chris Sutton
- Touch Judge: Darian Furner
- Touch Judge: Jon Stone
- Senior Review Official: Alan Shortall
With Lodge starting, the seasoned Kane Evans moves to the bench alongside fellow props Bunty Afoa and Leeson Ah Mau and the imposing Ben Murdoch-Masila.
Lodge, who has made 77 appearances for the Wests Tigers and Brisbane in his disrupted career, provides a major selection boost at a challenging time for the Vodafone Warriors.
Already without Peta Hiku (shoulder), Chanel Harris-Tavita (pectoral), David Fusitu’a (hamstring) and Tom Ale (ankle), they’ve lost two more frontline players to injury from last week’s golden point loss to St George Illawarra.
After making his return for the club last week, new signing Chad Townsend has been ruled out with a shoulder injury while inspirational second rower Tohu Harris (shoulder) is also on the side-line.
Townsend’s injury means he misses the chance to line up against the Sharks after leaving his old club leaving less than two weeks ago.
Apart from the six injured players, head coach Nathan Brown is still unable to call on centre Euan Aitken and back rower Josh Curran who remain in isolation for another week.
As well as Lodge, the other positives are Nikorima’s availability to come back into the halves with Harris-Tavita and Townsend both out while the impressive Walsh returns to add spark to the backline along with the highly promising Berry.
Lodge's inclusion will mean the Vodafone Warriors have used 31 players so far this season with Tuivasa-Sheck and Ah Mau the only players who have appeared in every match so far.
VODAFONE WARRIORS v CRONULLA SUTHERLAND SHARKS
4.05pm, Sunday, July 11, 2021
Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, Sydney
1 REECE WALSH
2 DALLIN WATENE-ZELEZNIAK
3 ROCCO BERRY
4 MARCELO MONTOYA
5 ROGER TUIVASA-SHECK
6 KODI NIKORIMA
7 SEAN O’SULLIVAN
8 ADDIN FONUA-BLAKE
9 WAYDE EGAN
10 MATT LODGE
11 ELIESA KATOA
12 BAYLEY SIRONEN
13 JAZZ TEVAGA
14 KANE EVANS
15 LEESON AH MAU
16 BUNTY AFOA
17 BEN MURDOCH-MASILA
18 ADAM POMPEY
20 JACK MURCHIE
21 TANIELA OTUKOLO
22 EDWARD KOSI
HEAD COACH | NATHAN BROWN