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SJ set for first appearance for club in 1267 days

Shaun Johnson will suit up in Vodafone Warriors colours for the first time in 1267 days when he runs out for the club’s second and final 2022 NRL trial against the Gold Coast Titans at Moreton Daily Stadium on Saturday (2.00pm kick-off local time; 5.00pm NZT).

The 31-year-old, the oldest player on this year’s roster, last played for the club in their week one finals loss to Penrith on September 8, 2018, the eve of his 28th birthday.

After leaving the 206-game veteran out of last Saturday’s trial against the Melbourne Storm, head coach Nathan Brown today confirmed Johnson will start in the #7 jersey at the club’s adopted home ground for the 2022 campaign.

It will mark his first appearance in three years, five months and 18 days on day when he’ll line up in a side which includes just two survivors from his last season – prop Bunty Afoa and Jazz Tevaga (with new captain Tohu Harris side-lined).

While Johnson’s comeback match is a key feature so, too, is Brown’s choice in the halves.

With Reece Walsh ruled out of the opening two rounds of the season, Chanel Harris-Tavita is again being used at fullback this weekend leaving him poised to wear the #1 jersey in the round one clash against the St George Illawarra Dragons at Sunshine Coast Stadium on Saturday, March 12.

That left experienced new signing Ash Taylor and the seasoned Kodi Nikorima vying for the #6 spot with Brown giving the nod to the latter.

While Johnson comes into the squad Josh Curran is also back from a head knock suffered in his appearance for the Indigenous All Stars against the Māori All Stars on February 12.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Warriors is number 1 Chanel Harris-Tavita
    Fullback for Titans is number 1 Jayden Campbell
  • Winger for Warriors is number 2 Dallin Watene-Zelezniak
    Winger for Titans is number 2 Phillip Sami
  • Centre for Warriors is number 3 Rocco Berry
    Centre for Titans is number 3 Brian Kelly
  • Centre for Warriors is number 4 Viliami Vailea
    Centre for Titans is number 4 Patrick Herbert
  • Winger for Warriors is number 5 Marcelo Montoya
    Winger for Titans is number 5 Corey Thompson
  • Five-Eighth for Warriors is number 6 Kodi Nikorima
    Five-Eighth for Titans is number 6 Alexander Brimson
  • Halfback for Warriors is number 7 Shaun Johnson
    Halfback for Titans is number 7 Toby Sexton

Forwards

  • Prop for Warriors is number 8 Addin Fonua-Blake
    Prop for Titans is number 8 Moeaki Fotuaika
  • Hooker for Warriors is number 9 Wayde Egan
    Hooker for Titans is number 9 Erin Clark
  • Prop for Warriors is number 10 Bunty Afoa
    Prop for Titans is number 10 Jaimin Jolliffe
  • 2nd Row for Warriors is number 11 Euan Aitken
    2nd Row for Titans is number 11 David Fifita
  • 2nd Row for Warriors is number 12 Eliesa Katoa
    2nd Row for Titans is number 12 Beau Fermor
  • Lock for Warriors is number 13 Josh Curran
    Lock for Titans is number 13 Tino Fa'asuamaleaui

Interchange

  • Interchange for Warriors is number 14 Jazz Tevaga
    Interchange for Titans is number 14 Tanah Boyd
  • Interchange for Warriors is number 15 Kina Kepu
    Interchange for Titans is number 15 Sam Lisone
  • Interchange for Warriors is number 16 Ben Murdoch-Masila
    Interchange for Titans is number 16 Jarrod Wallace

Reserves

  • Reserve for Warriors is number 7 Reece Walsh
    Reserve for Titans is number 17 Will Smith
  • Reserve for Warriors is number 8 Matthew Lodge
    Reserve for Titans is number 18 Herman Ese'ese
  • Reserve for Warriors is number 17 Aaron Pene
    Reserve for Titans is number 19 Kevin Proctor
  • Reserve for Warriors is number 18 Bayley Sironen
    Reserve for Titans is number 20 Sosefo Fifita
  • Reserve for Warriors is number 20 Taniela Otukolo
    Reserve for Titans is number 21 Paul Turner
  • Reserve for Warriors is number 21 Ashley Taylor
    Reserve for Titans is number 22 Treymain Spry
  • Reserve for Warriors is number 22 Edward Kosi
    Reserve for Titans is number 23 Greg Marzhew
  • Reserve for Warriors is number 23 Jack Murchie
    Reserve for Titans is number 24 Esan Marsters
  • Reserve for Warriors is number 24 Adam Pompey
  • Reserve for Warriors is number 25 Junior Ratuva
  • Reserve for Warriors is number 26 Jayden Corrigan

Match Officials

  • Referee: Chris Sutton
  • Senior Review Official: Chris Butler

Last updated:

Johnson and Curran are joined by first-choice hooker Wayde Egan, who is returning after offseason shoulder surgery, and second rower Jack Murchie.

In naming a 25-man squad Brown has selected the strongest squad available with Harris the only frontline player missing along with Walsh and prop Matt Lodge; Walsh and Lodge were both used against the Storm but are ineligible for selection in the opening round due to the suspensions they carry into the season.

In Lodge’s absence, Addin Fonua-Blake and Afoa both start at prop with hooker Egan, second rowers Euan Aitken and Eliesa Katoa and loose forward Curran rounding out the starting pack.

Three players without NRL experience are on the extended bench – contracted development prop Otukinekina Kepu, winger Junior Ratuva and train and trial fullback Jayden Corrigan.

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VODAFONE WARRIORS v GOLD COAST TITANS

Moreton Daily Stadium, Redcliffe

2.00pm, Saturday, February 26

VODAFONE WARRIORS

1 Chanel HARRIS-TAVITA

2 Dallin WATENE-ZELEZNIAK

3 Rocco BERRY

4 Viliami VAILEA

5 Marcelo MONTOYA

6 Kodi NIKORIMA

7 Shaun JOHNSON

8 Addin FONUA-BLAKE

9 Wayde EGAN

10 Bunty AFOA

11 Euan AITKEN

12 Eliesa KATOA

13 Josh CURRAN

Interchange:

14 Jazz TEVAGA

15 Otukinekina KEPU

16 Ben MURDOCH-MASILA

17 Aaron PENE

18 Bayley SIRONEN

20 Taniela OTUKOLO

21 Ash TAYLOR

22 Edward KOSI

23 Jack MURCHIE

24 Adam POMPEY

25 Junior RATUVA

26 Jayden CORRIGAN

Head coach | Nathan BROWN

Acknowledgement of Country

The New Zealand Warriors honour the mana of the Indigenous peoples of Aotearoa, Australia and the Pacific. We acknowledge the traditional kaitiaki of the lands, elders past and present, their stories, their traditions, their mamae and their mana motuhake.

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