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Big four back to provide boost for clash against Sharks

First-choice players Chanel Harris-Tavita, Addin Fonua-Blake, Matt Lodge and Josh Curran are all back for the Vodafone Warriors’ 21st-round NRL encounter with the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Saturday (3.00pm local time; 5.00pm NZT).

The 22-year-old Harris-Tavita will make just his eighth appearance of the season returning from eight weeks on the sideline after picking up a pectoral injury in the club’s 14th-round encounter with Melbourne on June 13.

Fonua-Blake (finger) and Lodge (suspension) return to bolster the front row after watching the injury-ravaged Vodafone Warriors battle gallantly to hold off the Wests Tigers 18-16 in last Friday’s night’s 20th-round encounter.

And Josh Curran, a late scratching last week, is also back in a pack showing significant modifications from the line-up used against the Tigers.

While those four key players are included there have been further injury setbacks, though, with rookie hooker Taniela Otukolo and prop-second rower Ben Murdoch-Masila both ruled out after last week’s first win in eight games.

Otukolo (19), who was playing just his third NRL game and starting for the first time has a knee injury which is expected to keep him out until round 24 while Murdoch-Masila has a foot injury which may have ended his season.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Warriors is number 1 Reece Walsh
    Fullback for Sharks is number 1 William Kennedy
  • Winger for Warriors is number 2 Dallin Watene-Zelezniak
    Winger for Sharks is number 2 Sione Katoa
  • Centre for Warriors is number 3 Peta Hiku
    Centre for Sharks is number 3 Will Chambers
  • Centre for Warriors is number 4 Viliami Vailea
    Centre for Sharks is number 4 Jesse Ramien
  • Winger for Warriors is number 5 Marcelo Montoya
    Winger for Sharks is number 5 Ronaldo Mulitalo
  • Five-Eighth for Warriors is number 6 Chanel Harris-Tavita
    Five-Eighth for Sharks is number 6 Connor Tracey
  • Halfback for Warriors is number 7 Sean O'Sullivan
    Halfback for Sharks is number 7 Braydon Trindall

Forwards

  • Prop for Warriors is number 8 Addin Fonua-Blake
    Prop for Sharks is number 8 Toby Rudolf
  • Hooker for Warriors is number 9 Jazz Tevaga
    Hooker for Sharks is number 9 Blayke Brailey
  • Prop for Warriors is number 10 Matthew Lodge
    Prop for Sharks is number 10 Aaron Woods
  • 2nd Row for Warriors is number 11 Euan Aitken
    2nd Row for Sharks is number 11 Briton Nikora
  • 2nd Row for Warriors is number 12 Josh Curran
    2nd Row for Sharks is number 12 Siosifa Talakai
  • Lock for Warriors is number 13 Bayley Sironen
    Lock for Sharks is number 13 Jack Williams

Interchange

  • Interchange for Warriors is number 14 Kodi Nikorima
    Interchange for Sharks is number 14 Braden Hamlin-Uele
  • Interchange for Warriors is number 15 Bunty Afoa
    Interchange for Sharks is number 16 Aiden Tolman
  • Interchange for Warriors is number 16 Kane Evans
    Interchange for Sharks is number 17 Andrew Fifita
  • Interchange for Warriors is number 17 Eliesa Katoa
    Interchange for Sharks is number 19 Luke Metcalf

Reserves

  • Reserve for Warriors is number 20 Edward Kosi
    Reserve for Sharks is number 20 Billy Magoulias

Match Officials

  • Referee: Matt Cecchin
  • Touch Judge: Darian Furner
  • Touch Judge: Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski
  • Senior Review Official: Alan Shortall

Last updated:

Among the others players on the injured list are Chad Townsend (shoulder), Wayde Egan (shoulder), Tohu Harris (knee) and Rocco Berry (hamstring).

Harris-Tavita is set for his second comeback from a major injury this season, having spent six games sidelined earlier in the campaign after foot surgery following the second-round loss to Newcastle.

While Fonua-Blake, Lodge and Curran return, the loss of Otukolo and Murdoch-Masila sees a much-changed starting pack. Fonua-Blake and Lodge replace Jamayne Taunoa-Brown and Murdoch-Masila, Jazz Tevaga comes in for Otukolo and Curran is named in the second row with Eliesa Katoa moving to the bench.

With Harris-Tavita back, Peta Hiku, successful in his first outing as captain, is moved into the centres alongside last week’s debutant Viliami Vailea with Adam Pompey shifted to the extended bench.

Regular centre Euan Aitken remains in the second row following a player of the day effort against the Tigers. As well as scoring two tries, he made 163 metres from 18 runs and made 41 tackles.

As well as Aitken, outside backs Marcelo Montoya (195), Dallin Watene-Zelezniak (190), Pompey (124) and Reece Walsh (116) all topped 100 metres as did halves Hiku (132) and Sean O'Sullivan (111). The other 100-metre men in the spirited display with Tevaga (121), Afoa (115) and loose forward Bayley Sironen (109).  

This week's contest edges Hiku and winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak within one game of their 150th first-grade appearances.

VODAFONE WARRIORS v CRONULLA-SUTHERLAND SHARKS

3.00pm, Saturday, August 7, 2021

Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

VODAFONE WARRIORS

1 REECE WALSH

2 DALLIN WATENE-ZELEZNIAK

3 PETA HIKU

4 VILIAMI VAILEA

5 MARCELO MONTOYA

6 CHANEL HARRIS-TAVITA

7 SEAN O’SULLIVAN

8 ADDIN FONUA-BLAKE (c)

9 JAZZ TEVAGA

10 MATT LODGE

11 EUAN AITKEN

12 JOSH CURRAN

13 BAYLEY SIRONEN

Interchange:

14 KODI NIKORIMA

15 BUNTY AFOA

16 KANE EVANS

17 ELIESA KATOA

18 JAMAYNE TAUNOA-BROWN

20 EDWARD KOSI

21 JACK MURCHIE

22 ADAM POMPEY

HEAD COACH | NATHAN BROWN