Vodafone Warriors captain Addin Fonua-Blake is rated a slightly better chance of taking his place against North Queensland in Friday night's fifth-round NRL contest at Moreton Daily Stadium in Redcliffe (6.00pm kick-off local time; 8.00pm NZT).
Head coach Nathan Brown told the media today that his premier prop could neither be ruled out nor ruled in two days out from the match.
He said Fonua-Blake's prospects had improved slightly from no chance 24 hours ago to a slim chance of playing.
Fonua-Blake is suffering from the effects of a knock picked up in last Saturday's 20-6 win over Brisbane; Brown wouldn't specify the nature of the injury "for obvious reasons if he does play".
The prop was named on the expanded bench in jersey #20 yesterday with Bunty Afoa listed in the starting line-up and hooker Wayde Egan selected as captain.
Two players - suspended Jazz Tevaga and injured Ben Murdoch-Masila (ankle/foot) - are definitely missing this week but interchange prop Aaron Pene (shoulder) and back rower Bayley Sironen (Covid) have come straight back into the line-up after missing the Brisbane encounter.
Sironen, who was on the bench in the first three rounds, comes into the second row with Josh Curran switched back to loose forward.
While Pene and Sironen make quick returns, first-choice centre Rocco Berry is also back in the extended squad after sitting out last week with a virus. Also included is fellow young centre Viliami Vailea after recovering from the knee injury which sidelined him after the first-round defeat by St George Illawarra.
Brown said while Berry was available again this week, centre Adam Pompey and winger Edward Kosi were retained as a reward for their performances against the Broncos.
For the first time this season, Brown has been able to select the same spine for a second week running with Egan at hooker, Shaun Johnson and Chanel Harris-Tavita in the halves and Reece Walsh at fullback.
Match: Warriors v Cowboys
Round 5 -
Fullback for Warriors is number 1 Reece WalshFullback for Cowboys is number 1 Scott Drinkwater
Winger for Warriors is number 2 Edward KosiWinger for Cowboys is number 2 Kyle Feldt
Centre for Warriors is number 3 Jesse ArtharsCentre for Cowboys is number 3 Valentine Holmes
Centre for Warriors is number 4 Adam PompeyCentre for Cowboys is number 4 Peta Hiku
Winger for Warriors is number 5 Marcelo MontoyaWinger for Cowboys is number 5 Murray Taulagi
Five-Eighth for Warriors is number 6 Chanel Harris-TavitaFive-Eighth for Cowboys is number 6 Tom Dearden
Halfback for Warriors is number 7 Shaun JohnsonHalfback for Cowboys is number 7 Chad Townsend
Prop for Warriors is number 10 Matthew LodgeProp for Cowboys is number 8 Jordan McLean
Hooker for Warriors is number 9 Wayde EganHooker for Cowboys is number 9 Reece Robson
Prop for Warriors is number 20 Addin Fonua-BlakeProp for Cowboys is number 16 Reuben Cotter
2nd Row for Warriors is number 11 Euan Aitken2nd Row for Cowboys is number 11 Tom Gilbert
2nd Row for Warriors is number 12 Bayley Sironen2nd Row for Cowboys is number 12 Jeremiah Nanai
Lock for Warriors is number 13 Josh CurranLock for Cowboys is number 13 Jason Taumalolo
Interchange for Warriors is number 8 Bunty AfoaInterchange for Cowboys is number 10 Jamayne Taunoa-Brown
Interchange for Warriors is number 14 Kodi NikorimaInterchange for Cowboys is number 14 Jake Granville
Interchange for Warriors is number 16 Aaron PeneInterchange for Cowboys is number 15 Heilum Luki
Interchange for Warriors is number 17 Jack MurchieInterchange for Cowboys is number 17 Griffin Neame
Replacement for Warriors is number 15 Eliesa KatoaReplacement for Cowboys is number 19 Brendan Elliot
- Referee: Todd Smith
- Touch Judge: Kasey Badger
- Senior Review Official: Matt Noyen
Until now Egan had been the only constant in the opening four rounds.
In round one Johnson was with Kodi Nikorima in the halves with Harris-Tavita at fullback while a week later Walsh came in at fullback with Harris-Tavita going to the halves alongside new signing Ash Taylor.
There was another shuffle for the round three contest when Taylor (hip) was ruled out and Nikorima was back in the halves.
It meant Brown was unable to field his preferred spine until last week when Johnson came back from injury.
Last week Matt Lodge, Jesse Arthars, Nikorima and Walsh all lined up against their former club Brisbane; this week the Vodafone Warriors will face three former players in centre Peta Hiku, halfback Chad Townsend and prop Jamayne Taunoa-Brown who were all teammates last season.
Friday night’s second consecutive home game at Moreton Daily Stadium offers up another all-Queensland clash, the third in the opening five rounds for the Redcliffe-based Vodafone Warriors after facing Gold Coast in round two and Brisbane last week.
VODAFONE WARRIORS v NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS
Moreton Daily Stadium, Brisbane
6.00pm, Friday, April 8
1 REECE WALSH
2 EDWARD KOSI
3 JESSE ARTHARS
4 ADAM POMPEY
5 MARCELO MONTOYA
6 CHANEL HARRIS-TAVITA
7 SHAUN JOHNSON
8 BUNTY AFOA
9 WAYDE EGAN (C)
10 MATT LODGE
11 EUAN AITKEN
12 BAYLEY SIRONEN
13 JOSH CURRAN
14 KODI NIKORIMA
15 ELIESA KATOA
16 AARON PENE
17 JACK MURCHIE
18 TANIELA OTUKOLO
20 ADDIN FONUA-BLAKE
21 ROCCO BERRY
22 PRIDE PETTERSON-ROBATI
23 JUNIOR RATUVA
24 VILIAMI VAILEA
25 OTUKINEKINA KEPU
Head coach | Nathan BROWN