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Johnson 'more likely than unlikely' to return

Vodafone Warriors head coach Nathan Brown rates halfback Shaun Johnson "more likely than unlikely" to return from injury in Saturday's fourth-round encounter with the Brisbane Broncos at Moreton Daily Stadium (2.00pm kick-off local time; 5.00pm NZT).

The 31-year-old was named on the club's extended bench in jersey #24 on Tuesday showing his recovery from a first-round pectoral strain is well on track.

Johnson trained with the squad on Monday and again in full team session yesterday.

"It's just a matter of ticking a couple of boxes," said Brown.

"All the signs look like he could play. He's much more likely to play than unlikely, to be honest."

With the experienced Ash Taylor also on the injury list, Brown has named Kodi Nikorima and Chanel Harris-Tavita as the starting halves.

They became the third different halves duo in three rounds when they teamed up in last Friday night’s gritty 16-12 win over the Wests Tigers, the first time they had been used as a starting combination since June last year.

There’s only one change to the 17 fielded against the Tigers with second rower Bayley Sironen ruled out (Covid) and Jack Murchie promoted from 18th man.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Warriors is number 1 Reece Walsh
    Fullback for Broncos is number 1 Tesi Niu
  • Winger for Warriors is number 5 Marcelo Montoya
    Winger for Broncos is number 2 Corey Oates
  • Centre for Warriors is number 2 Adam Pompey
    Centre for Broncos is number 3 Kotoni Staggs
  • Centre for Warriors is number 3 Jesse Arthars
    Centre for Broncos is number 4 Herbie Farnworth
  • Winger for Warriors is number 25 Edward Kosi
    Winger for Broncos is number 5 Selwyn Cobbo
  • Five-Eighth for Warriors is number 6 Chanel Harris-Tavita
    Five-Eighth for Broncos is number 6 Albert Kelly
  • Halfback for Warriors is number 24 Shaun Johnson
    Halfback for Broncos is number 7 Adam Reynolds

Forwards

  • Prop for Warriors is number 8 Addin Fonua-Blake
    Prop for Broncos is number 10 Payne Haas
  • Hooker for Warriors is number 9 Wayde Egan
    Hooker for Broncos is number 9 Jake Turpin
  • Prop for Warriors is number 10 Matthew Lodge
    Prop for Broncos is number 14 Thomas Flegler
  • 2nd Row for Warriors is number 11 Euan Aitken
    2nd Row for Broncos is number 11 Keenan Palasia
  • 2nd Row for Warriors is number 13 Josh Curran
    2nd Row for Broncos is number 16 Teui Robati
  • Lock for Warriors is number 14 Jazz Tevaga
    Lock for Broncos is number 13 Patrick Carrigan

Interchange

  • Interchange for Warriors is number 7 Kodi Nikorima
    Interchange for Broncos is number 8 Ryan James
  • Interchange for Warriors is number 12 Eliesa Katoa
    Interchange for Broncos is number 15 Kobe Hetherington
  • Interchange for Warriors is number 15 Bunty Afoa
    Interchange for Broncos is number 17 Billy Walters
  • Interchange for Warriors is number 20 Ben Murdoch-Masila
    Interchange for Broncos is number 23 Brenko Lee

Reserves

  • Replacement for Warriors is number 17 Jack Murchie
    Replacement for Broncos is number 20 Corey Jensen

Match Officials

  • Referee: Chris Sutton
  • Touch Judge: Wyatt Raymond
  • Senior Review Official: Alan Shortall

Last updated:

The team named features the same starting pack for the third week on end.

With Matt Lodge recovered from the illness that severely limited his involvement against the Titans, he and fellow front rower Addin Fonua-Blake kept the Vodafone Warriors rolling up the middle of the park; Fonua-Blake made 150 metres from 15 carries, the third time he has made 150 or more metres this season, while Lodge was only fractionally behind with 148 from 18. They backed it up with their defensive work, Fonua-Blake with 27 tackles, Lodge with 27.

Consistent yet again was loose forward Josh Curran with 141 metres from 15 runs and 28 tackles, landing him two more Dally M points.

The Vodafone Warriors’ forward rotation was adversely affected by a cut eye which reduced second rower Eliesa Katoa to just 30 minutes but Katoa is fully recovered to face up to the Broncos.

The first game at the Vodafone Warriors’ 2022 home ground Moreton Daily Stadium gives the area a foretaste of a Brisbane derby ahead of the Dolphins joining the NRL next year.

The Broncos face a short trip north to face a Vodafone Warriors side including one of their own in centre Jesse Arthars, who’s on loan this season.

Lodge is another ex-Bronco, having joined the Vodafone Warriors last year after playing 65 times for Brisbane from 2018-2021 while fullback Reece Walsh was in the Broncos’ system before he was signed early last season.

Yet another former Bronco is halfback Kodi Nikorima, who played 86 games for Brisbane from 2015-2019.

VODAFONE WARRIORS v BRISBANE BRONCOS

Moreton Daily Stadium, Brisbane

2.00pm, Saturday, April 2

VODAFONE WARRIORS

1 REECE WALSH

2 ADAM POMPEY

3 JESSE ARTHARS

4 ROCCO BERRY

5 MARCELO MONTOYA

6 CHANEL HARRIS-TAVITA

7 KODI NIKORIMA

8 ADDIN FONUA-BLAKE (c)

9 WAYDE EGAN

10 MATT LODGE

11 EUAN AITKEN

12 ELIESA KATOA

13 JOSH CURRAN

Interchange:

14 JAZZ TEVAGA

15 BUNTY AFOA

16 AARON PENE

17 JACK MURCHIE

18 TANIELA OTUKOLO

20 BEN MURDOCH-MASILA

21 PRIDE PETTERSON-ROBATI

22 VALINGI KEPU

23 JUNIOR RATUVA

24 SHAUN JOHNSON

25 EDWARD KOSI

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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