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Asi returns in the halves with Vailea recalled in the centres

Daejarn Asi will team up in the halves with Shaun Johnson for the sixth time this season in the Vodafone Warriors' third Homecoming Series clash against the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs at Mount Smart Stadium on Friday (8.00pm kick-off).

After missing the last two matches against Melbourne and Canberra, the 21-year-old former North Queensland half has returned for the round 22 encounter.

With Chanel Harris-Tavita (knee) and Ronald Volkman (shoulder) on the injured list, interim head coach Stacey Jones has looked to Asi again after the Vodafone Warriors' disappointing performance against South Sydney last Saturday.

Also back on the NRL stage is 19-year-old centre Viliami Vailea who will make his seventh appearance this season but his first since breaking his jaw against the Newcastle Knights on May 28.

He was impressive earlier in the season, scoring five tries in six games. He comes back into the NRL after turning out for feeder club Redcliffe in Queensland’s Hostplus Cup; he was one of three Vodafone Warriors players to score tries in the Dolphins’ 28-18 win over Wynnum-Manly last weekend.

His recall results in the experienced Euan Aitken being moved back to the second row while Asi is in for Wayde Egan, who reverts to his specialist role at hooker after wearing the #6 jersey against the Rabbitohs last week. Freddy Lussick moves back to the interchange.

As well as Aitken resuming his second rower’s role alongside Jack Murchie, there’s a forced change at loose forward with Aaron Pene (leg contusion) ruled out this week which results in Josh Curran being named to start in #13.

Standoff Chanel Harris (knee) and centre Jesse Arthars (quad) weren’t cleared this week but are on track to be available for the round 23 away clash against North Queensland.

The Bulldogs arrived in Auckland today to prepare for their first encounter at Mount Smart Stadium since the opening round of the 2019 season, a match the Vodafone Warriors won 40-6. That day Marcelo Montoya was in the centres for the Bulldogs but now has the same role for the home side against his old club.

Prop Bunty Afoa, another survivor from that match, will play his 20th consecutive match of the season, the only player in the squad to feature in every game.

This will be the 41st contest between the two clubs with the Bulldogs 21-17 ahead on the winning ledger with two matches drawn. In matches at Mount Smart the teams have an even 10-10 record in 20 games while the Vodafone Warriors have won the last three and five of the last seven.

However, while the Vodafone Warriors have been battling to find winning form the Bulldogs have been resurgent rebounding from just two wins in their first 13 matches to win four of their last seven.

VODAFONE WARRIORS v CANTERBURY-BANKSTOWN BULLDOGS

Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
8.00pm, Friday, August 12

VODAFONE WARRIORS

1 REECE WALSH
2 DALLIN WATENE-ZELEZNIAK
3 VILIAMI VAILEA
4 MARCELO MONTOYA
5 EDWARD KOSI
6 DAEJARN ASI
7 SHAUN JOHNSON
8 ADDIN FONUA-BLAKE
9 WAYDE EGAN
10 TOHU HARRIS (c)
11 EUAN AITKEN
12 JACK MURCHIE
13 JOSH CURRAN
Extended bench:
14 FREDDY LUSSICK
15 BUNTY AFOA
16 ELIESA KATOA
17 JACKSON FREI
18 BAYLEY SIRONEN
20 ADAM POMPEY
21 TANIELA OTUKOLO
22 TOM ALE
23 ROCCO BERRY
Head coach | STACEY JONES

 

 

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