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Bunty Afoa’s 100th milestone appearance and Shaun Johnson’s return to Mount Smart Stadium provide special highlights for the Vodafone Warriors’ long-awaited homecoming match against the Wests Tigers on Sunday (4.00pm kick-off).

Playing in front of a sold-out stadium, the Vodafone Warriors will end a 1038-day drought since their last home game against South Sydney on August 30, 2019.

The 25-year-old Afoa was out injured for that match but will memorably become the club’s 28th 100-game player in one of the biggest occasions in the Vodafone Warriors’ history.

He joins the elite club just a matter of weeks after his long-time clubmate Jazz Tevaga hit three figures in the encounter with St George Illawarra.

From the moment he debuted in 2016 Afoa stood out as a back-of-the-fence ball carrier in the same manner as club legends Hitro Okesene and Iafeta Paleaaesina.

Six years later nothing has changed. He still runs as fearlessly as ever at the line in a career which has been marked by his consistency, reliability and discipline. In 99 matches he has been penalised just 24 times – only four for foul play – and has made only 15 handling errors.

The 31-year-old Johnson, who was there for Afoa’s first match and now his 100th, adds to the appeal of an emotion-charged occasion by at last making his return to his beloved Mount Smart Stadium.

He hasn’t played an NRL match on the ground since his last one there against Canberra in 2018; in his three seasons with Cronulla-Sutherland he never played against the Vodafone Warriors in Auckland.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Warriors is number 14 Chanel Harris-Tavita
    Fullback for Wests Tigers is number 1 Daine Laurie
  • Winger for Warriors is number 2 Dallin Watene-Zelezniak
    Winger for Wests Tigers is number 2 David Nofoaluma
  • Centre for Warriors is number 3 Jesse Arthars
    Centre for Wests Tigers is number 3 Starford To'a
  • Centre for Warriors is number 18 Adam Pompey
    Centre for Wests Tigers is number 4 James Roberts
  • Winger for Warriors is number 5 Marcelo Montoya
    Winger for Wests Tigers is number 5 Ken Maumalo
  • Five-Eighth for Warriors is number 6 Ronald Volkman
    Five-Eighth for Wests Tigers is number 6 Luke Brooks
  • Halfback for Warriors is number 7 Shaun Johnson
    Halfback for Wests Tigers is number 7 Jackson Hastings

Forwards

  • Prop for Warriors is number 10 Jazz Tevaga
    Prop for Wests Tigers is number 10 Zane Musgrove
  • Hooker for Warriors is number 9 Wayde Egan
    Hooker for Wests Tigers is number 9 Fa'amanu Brown
  • Prop for Warriors is number 20 Aaron Pene
    Prop for Wests Tigers is number 16 Alex Seyfarth
  • 2nd Row for Warriors is number 4 Euan Aitken
    2nd Row for Wests Tigers is number 11 Luke Garner
  • 2nd Row for Warriors is number 13 Josh Curran
    2nd Row for Wests Tigers is number 12 Kelma Tuilagi
  • Lock for Warriors is number 12 Tohu Harris
    Lock for Wests Tigers is number 13 Joe Ofahengaue

Interchange

  • Interchange for Warriors is number 8 Addin Fonua-Blake
    Interchange for Wests Tigers is number 14 Stefano Utoikamanu
  • Interchange for Warriors is number 15 Bunty Afoa
    Interchange for Wests Tigers is number 15 Adam Doueihi
  • Interchange for Warriors is number 17 Bayley Sironen
    Interchange for Wests Tigers is number 17 Fonua Pole
  • Interchange for Warriors is number 22 Freddy Lussick
    Interchange for Wests Tigers is number 20 Austin Dias

Reserves

  • Replacement for Warriors is number 16 Eliesa Katoa
    Replacement for Wests Tigers is number 21 Jacob Liddle

Match Officials

  • Referee: Chris Sutton
  • Senior Review Official: Kasey Badger

Last updated:

In naming his team for Sunday’s landmark event, interim head coach Stacey Jones has made a significant line-up change by shifting Euan Aitken back into the centres.

The last time Aitken started there was against South Sydney in July last year. His last 19 starts have all been in the second row.

He’ll pair up on the left edge with winger Marcelo Montoya with Adam Pompey moved onto an extended bench.

There’s one change on the interchange with Eliesa Katoa recalled alongside utility Chanel Harris-Tavita, Afoa and Bayley Sironen.

VODAFONE WARRIORS v WESTS TIGERS

Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
4.00pm, Sunday, July 3

VODAFONE WARRIORS

1 REECE WALSH
2 DALLIN WATENE-ZELEZNIAK
3 JESSE ARTHARS
4 EUAN AITKEN
5 MARCELO MONTOYA
6 RONALD VOLKMAN
7 SHAUN JOHNSON
8 ADDIN FONUA-BLAKE
9 WAYDE EGAN
10 JAZZ TEVAGA
11 JACK MURCHIE
12 TOHU HARRIS (c)
13 JOSH CURRAN
Extended bench:
14 CHANEL HARRIS-TAVITA
15 BUNTY AFOA
16 ELIESA KATOA
17 BAYLEY SIRONEN
18 ADAM POMPEY
20 AARON PENE
21 ROCCO BERRY
22 FREDDY LUSSICK
23 DAEJARN ASI
Head coach | STACEY JONES

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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