Peta Hiku eyes his 150th milestone appearance while prop Jackson Frei has been named to make his debut in the Vodafone Warriors’ 22nd-round NRL encounter with Canterbury Bankstown at Redcliffe’s Moreton Daily Stadium on Sunday (1.50pm kick-off local time; 3.50pm NZT).
With front row resources depleted by suspension, injury and unavailability, head coach Nathan Brown has called up the 23-year-old Queenslander Frei to start alongside in-form captain Addin Fonua-Blake.
Frei, who joined the Vodafone Warriors in 2019, was a regular for feeder club Redcliffe in the Intrust Super Cup until the latest Covid-19 lockdown put the competition on hold. In 10 outings for the Dolphins he has averaged 104 metres and 25 tackles a game.
He will become the 34th player the Vodafone Warriors have used this season, the 15th to debut for the club and the sixth to play his first NRL game after Rocco Berry, Reece Walsh, Edward Kosi, Taniela Otukolo and Viliami Vailea.
In another key feature, experienced halfback Chad Townsend and hooker Wayde Egan are both on the extended bench after recovering from shoulder injuries.
Both Hiku and winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak were set for a double 150th celebration this week but Watene-Zelezniak will now miss the match after failing to overturn a contrary conduct charge at the NRL judiciary tonight.
Match: Warriors v Bulldogs
Round 22 -
Fullback for Warriors is number 1 Reece WalshFullback for Bulldogs is number 1 Nick Meaney
Winger for Warriors is number 5 Marcelo MontoyaWinger for Bulldogs is number 5 Falakiko Manu
Centre for Warriors is number 3 Peta HikuCentre for Bulldogs is number 3 Will Hopoate
Centre for Warriors is number 4 Adam PompeyCentre for Bulldogs is number 4 Aaron Schoupp
Winger for Warriors is number 18 Edward KosiWinger for Bulldogs is number 20 Jayden Okunbor
Five-Eighth for Warriors is number 6 Chanel Harris-TavitaFive-Eighth for Bulldogs is number 6 Bailey Biondi-Odo
Halfback for Warriors is number 7 Sean O'SullivanHalfback for Bulldogs is number 7 Jake Averillo
Prop for Warriors is number 8 Addin Fonua-BlakeProp for Bulldogs is number 8 Ava Seumanufagai
Hooker for Warriors is number 22 Wayde EganHooker for Bulldogs is number 9 Jeremy Marshall-King
Prop for Warriors is number 10 Jackson FreiProp for Bulldogs is number 10 Ryan James
2nd Row for Warriors is number 11 Josh Curran2nd Row for Bulldogs is number 11 Adam Elliott
2nd Row for Warriors is number 12 Euan Aitken2nd Row for Bulldogs is number 12 Matt Doorey
Lock for Warriors is number 9 Jazz TevagaLock for Bulldogs is number 13 Josh Jackson
Interchange for Warriors is number 14 Kodi NikorimaInterchange for Bulldogs is number 14 Sione Katoa
Interchange for Warriors is number 15 Bunty AfoaInterchange for Bulldogs is number 15 Chris Patolo
Interchange for Warriors is number 16 Jamayne Taunoa-BrownInterchange for Bulldogs is number 16 Corey Horsburgh
Interchange for Warriors is number 17 Eliesa KatoaInterchange for Bulldogs is number 17 Joe Stimson
Reserve for Warriors is number 20 Jack MurchieReserve for Bulldogs is number 19 Kyle Flanagan
- Referee: Peter Gough
- Touch Judge: Liam Kennedy
- Touch Judge: Drew Oultram
- Senior Review Official: Matt Noyen
The Vodafone Warriors have also lost experienced front rowers Matt Lodge and Kane Evans after they took early guilty pleas on charges they picked up against the Sharks; Evans has been suspended for one match and Lodge for two.
With veteran Leeson Ah Mau cleared to return home early last month and Ben Murdoch-Masila out for the rest of the season with a foot injury, the Vodafone Warriors are left with only three established props in captain Addin Fonua-Blake, Bunty Afoa and Jamayne Taunoa-Brown.
Brown has brought Taunoa-Brown onto the interchange to replace Evans while Afoa remains on a bench which also includes Kodi Nikorima and Eliesa Katoa.
Hiku (28), who made his NRL debut in 2013, has his 70th game for the Vodafone Warriors on Sunday after 60 games for Manly (2013-2015) and 20 for Penrith (2016-2017).
In their wins over the Tigers and Sharks – the first back-to-back successes this season – the Vodafone Warriors' back five were key to the performances.
Against the Tigers, winger Marcelo Montoya made 195 metres, Watene-Zelezniak 190, centre Adam Pompey 124 and fullback Reece Walsh 116.
Every one of the back five topped 100 metres against Cronulla – Hiku 196, Walsh 156, Watene-Zelezniak 155, Montoya 129 and rookie Viliami Vailea 122.
Sunday’s match will have special meaning for the Vodafone Warriors playing a home game at feeder club Redcliffe’s Moreton Daily Stadium. Several of the players in this week’s side have appeared for the Redcliffe Dolphins in the Intrust Super Cup this season.
Of the 21 players named today, nine have played for the Dolphins at some stage this season.
VODAFONE WARRIORS v CANTERBURY BANKSTOWN BULLDOGS
1.50pm, Sunday, August 15, 2021
Moreton Daily Stadium, Redcliffe
1 REECE WALSH
3 PETA HIKU
4 ADAM POMPEY
5 MARCELO MONTOYA
6 CHANEL HARRIS-TAVITA
7 SEAN O’SULLIVAN
8 ADDIN FONUA-BLAKE (c)
9 JAZZ TEVAGA
10 JACKSON FREI
11 EUAN AITKEN
12 JOSH CURRAN
13 BAYLEY SIRONEN
14 KODI NIKORIMA
15 BUNTY AFOA
16 JAMAYNE TAUNOA-BROWN
17 ELIESA KATOA
18 EDWARD KOSI
20 JACK MURCHIE
21 CHAD TOWNSEND
22 WAYDE EGAN
HEAD COACH | NATHAN BROWN