Experienced Peta Hiku will lead the Vodafone Warriors for the first time when he returns from a long injury-lay-off in a much-changed side to face the Wests Tigers in Friday night’s 20th-round NRL clash at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane (6.00pm kick-off local time; 8.00pm NZT).
Named at standoff, the versatile 28-year-old Hiku will be making his first appearance – and just his fifth of the season – since picking up a serious shoulder injury in the 20-14 win over St George Illawarra on April 18.
Of the first four matches he played this season, the Vodafone Warriors won three beating Gold Coast, Canberra and the Dragons.
Hiku, who’ll be making his 148th career appearance, is teamed in the halves with Sean O’Sullivan. He’ll be the Vodafone Warriors’ third captain in as many games; departing Roger Tuivasa-Sheck led the side against Penrith – before leaving the field early with concussion – while prop Addin Fonua-Blake took over against the Rabbitohs last week.
Match: Wests Tigers v Warriors
Round 20 -
Fullback for Wests Tigers is number 1 Daine LaurieFullback for Warriors is number 1 Reece Walsh
Winger for Wests Tigers is number 2 David NofoalumaWinger for Warriors is number 2 Dallin Watene-Zelezniak
Centre for Wests Tigers is number 3 Moses MbyeCentre for Warriors is number 3 Adam Pompey
Centre for Wests Tigers is number 4 Tommy TalauCentre for Warriors is number 18 Viliami Vailea
Winger for Wests Tigers is number 5 Ken MaumaloWinger for Warriors is number 5 Marcelo Montoya
Five-Eighth for Wests Tigers is number 6 Adam DoueihiFive-Eighth for Warriors is number 6 Peta Hiku
Halfback for Wests Tigers is number 7 Luke BrooksHalfback for Warriors is number 7 Sean O'Sullivan
Prop for Wests Tigers is number 8 Stefano UtoikamanuProp for Warriors is number 8 Jamayne Taunoa-Brown
Hooker for Wests Tigers is number 9 Jacob LiddleHooker for Warriors is number 9 Taniela Otukolo
Prop for Wests Tigers is number 14 Alex TwalProp for Warriors is number 10 Ben Murdoch-Masila
2nd Row for Wests Tigers is number 11 Shawn Blore2nd Row for Warriors is number 4 Euan Aitken
2nd Row for Wests Tigers is number 12 Luciano Leilua2nd Row for Warriors is number 11 Eliesa Katoa
Lock for Wests Tigers is number 13 Joe OfahengaueLock for Warriors is number 12 Bayley Sironen
Interchange for Wests Tigers is number 15 Tom AmoneInterchange for Warriors is number 14 Kodi Nikorima
Interchange for Wests Tigers is number 16 Tukimihia SimpkinsInterchange for Warriors is number 15 Bunty Afoa
Interchange for Wests Tigers is number 17 Michael Chee KamInterchange for Warriors is number 16 Kane Evans
Interchange for Wests Tigers is number 18 Kelma TuilagiInterchange for Warriors is number 17 Jazz Tevaga
Reserve for Wests Tigers is number 20 Zac CiniReserve for Warriors is number 21 Pride Petterson-Robati
- Referee: Ben Cummins
- Touch Judge: Darian Furner
- Touch Judge: Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski
- Senior Review Official: Henry Perenara
Through a combination of unavailability, injury and suspension, head coach Nathan Brown has had no option but to make a raft of changes to the line-up.
Tuivasa-Sheck has played his last game for the club after being given permission to return home before the Government completely pauses the Australian travel bubble on Friday and now veteran prop Leeson Ah Mau is also unavailable after being granted a request to be reunited with his family in Auckland.
Tohu Harris (shoulder), Wayde Egan (shoulder) and Rocco Berry (hamstring) are joined in the casualty ward by Addin Fonua-Blake (hand), Chad Townsend (shoulder), Jack Murchie (concussion) while impressive new signing Matt Lodge is suspended.
The heavy toll of unavailable players results in a completely new starting front row.
Jamayne Taunoa-Brown, who last played in the round 19 loss to Gold Coast, returns at prop after two loan appearances for the Dragons with Ben Murdoch-Masila the other starting prop alongside rookie hooker Taniela Otukolo, who’ll start for the first time.
The outside backs are unchanged, Reece Walsh - the team's top try scorer with seven tries in 10 games - again at fullback with Dallin Watene-Zelezniak and Marcelo Montoya on the wings and Euan Aitken and Adam Pompey in the centres.
Murchie is replaced by Eliesa Katoa while the bench named comprises Kodi Nikorima, Bunty Afoa, Kane Evans and Jazz Tevaga.
Just three players have been named on the extended bench including young centre Viliami Vailea and prop Pride Petterson-Robati, both yet to make their NRL debuts.
VODAFONE WARRIORS v WESTS TIGERS
6.00pm, Friday, July 30, 2021
Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
1 REECE WALSH
2 DALLIN WATENE-ZELEZNIAK
3 ADAM POMPEY
4 EUAN AITKEN
5 MARCELO MONTOYA
6 PETA HIKU (c)
7 SEAN O’SULLIVAN
8 JAMAYNE TAUNOA-BROWN
9 TANIELA OTUKOLO
10 BEN MURDOCH-MASILA
11 ELIESA KATOA
12 BAYLEY SIRONEN
13 JOSH CURRAN
14 KODI NIKORIMA
15 BUNTY AFOA
16 KANE EVANS
17 JAZZ TEVAGA
18 VILIAMI VAILEA
20 EDWARD KOSI
21 PRIDE PETTERSON-ROBATI
HEAD COACH | NATHAN BROWN