Vodafone Warriors interim head coach Stacey Jones has named an unchanged line-up but has included Chanel Harris-Tavita on the extended bench for Friday’s 23rd-round NRL encounter with the North Queensland Cowboys in Townsville (6.00pm kick-off local time; 8.00pm NZT).
Harris-Tavita is back in the selection mix after missing just two matches following the minor MCL knee strain he suffered in the round 20 loss to Melbourne in Auckland on July 29.
Jones reported Harris-Tavita was moving more freely this week pointing to the possibility he could come into the playing line-up as a late change.
The utility is just three games away from stepping aside from the NRL at the age of only 23 to pursue other interests. His injury recovery gives him the chance of a farewell appearance at Mount Smart Stadium when the Vodafone Warriors host Gold Coast in their last match of the season on September 3.
For now Jones is staying with the same combination used in the 42-18 win over Canterbury Bankstown at Mount Smart Stadium on Friday night, making it two wins out of three in the club’s homecoming matches. The score was the biggest since the 50-14 win over Newcastle in 2016.
Left winger Edward Kosi has struck a rich vein of form since being recalled to the side after his challenging experience against Melbourne on Anzac Day.
With his double against the Bulldogs Kosi has scored seven tries in his last four games and has eight in eight appearances this season. In his last four outings he has made nine line breaks, 10 tackle breaks and is averaging almost 150 metres a game.
Match: Cowboys v Warriors
Round 23 -
Fullback for Cowboys is number 1 Scott DrinkwaterFullback for Warriors is number 1 Reece Walsh
Winger for Cowboys is number 2 Kyle FeldtWinger for Warriors is number 2 Dallin Watene-Zelezniak
Centre for Cowboys is number 3 Valentine HolmesCentre for Warriors is number 3 Viliami Vailea
Centre for Cowboys is number 4 Peta HikuCentre for Warriors is number 4 Marcelo Montoya
Winger for Cowboys is number 5 Murray TaulagiWinger for Warriors is number 5 Edward Kosi
Five-Eighth for Cowboys is number 6 Tom DeardenFive-Eighth for Warriors is number 6 Daejarn Asi
Halfback for Cowboys is number 7 Chad TownsendHalfback for Warriors is number 7 Shaun Johnson
Prop for Cowboys is number 8 Jordan McLeanProp for Warriors is number 8 Addin Fonua-Blake
Hooker for Cowboys is number 9 Reece RobsonHooker for Warriors is number 9 Wayde Egan
Prop for Cowboys is number 16 Coen HessProp for Warriors is number 10 Tohu Harris
2nd Row for Cowboys is number 12 Jeremiah Nanai2nd Row for Warriors is number 11 Euan Aitken
2nd Row for Cowboys is number 15 Luciano Leilua2nd Row for Warriors is number 12 Jack Murchie
Lock for Cowboys is number 13 Jason TaumaloloLock for Warriors is number 13 Bunty Afoa
Interchange for Cowboys is number 10 Reuben CotterInterchange for Warriors is number 14 Freddy Lussick
Interchange for Cowboys is number 14 Hamiso Tabuai-FidowInterchange for Warriors is number 15 Tom Ale
Interchange for Cowboys is number 17 Griffin NeameInterchange for Warriors is number 16 Eliesa Katoa
Interchange for Cowboys is number 18 Jamayne Taunoa-BrownInterchange for Warriors is number 17 Josh Curran
Replacement for Cowboys is number 20 Jake GranvilleReplacement for Warriors is number 20 Dunamis Lui
- Referee: Chris Butler
- Touch Judge: Wyatt Raymond
- Touch Judge: Nick Morel
- Senior Review Official: Kasey Badger
Also enjoying a strong strike rate is 19-year-old centre Viliami Vailea who marked his first NRL match in 10 weeks last Friday with his sixth try in seven games this season.
Friday night’s match will have special significance for standoff Daejarn Asi when he returns to face his former teammates, having left the Cowboys to join the Vodafone Warriors in late April.
The Vodafone Warriors dominated all areas of the contest against the Bulldogs when they made more than 2000 metres, had a 6-1 edge in line breaks, a 31-18 advantage in tackle breaks and missed just 18 tackles to the Bulldogs’ 31.
Tohu Harris (234), Dallin Watene-Zelezniak (206) and Addin Fonua-Blake (202) all topped 200 metres while seven other players carried the ball more than 100 metres each.
However, taking on the second-placed Cowboys in Townsville is an imposing challenge.
While they’re coming off a last-up loss to the Sydney Roosters they’re formidable at home.
A Shaun Johnson field goal gave the Vodafone Warriors a 25-24 golden point win over North Queensland in Redcliffe in April, their fifth win in the last seven matches between the two sides, but the Cowboys have made huge strides since then to sit firmly inside the top four. In 44 contests since 1995, the Vodafone Warriors hold a 23-21 winning edge.
VODAFONE WARRIORS v NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS
Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Townsville
8.00pm, Friday, August 19
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 BUNTY AFOA
14 FREDDY LUSSICK
15 TOM ALE
16 ELIESA KATOA
17 JOSH CURRAN
18 CHANEL HARRIS-TAVITA
20 DUNAMIS LUI
21 JACKSON FREI
22 ADAM POMPEY
23 ROCCO BERRY
Head coach | STACEY JONES