Edward Kosi's inclusion for the injured Dallin Watene-Zelezniak is the only change for the One New Zealand Warriors for their first-round encounter with the Newcastle Knights at Wellington’s Sky Stadium tonight (8.00pm kick-off).
Hooker Freddy Lussick has been confirmed as 18th man with centre Viliami Vailea omitted from the 19-man game day squad.
Watene-Zelezniak was ruled out last night after failing to recovered from a calf injury he picked up in the club's second Preseason Challenge match against Melbourne in Christchurch on February 19.
A return date is yet to be confirmed for Watene-Zelezniak, the club's top try scorer with nine last season.
The other two players to drop out of the extended squad 24 hours before the season-opener were fullback Taine Tuaupiki and halfback Ronald Volkman.
Six of the club's offseason signings make their first NRL appearances for the One New Zealand Warriors tonight.
And a seventh will be playing his first NRL game for the club since the last of his seven previous matches in 2017.
Of the confirmed starting line-up just four were starters in the final game of the 2022 season against Gold Coast Titans; winger Kosi, props Addin Fonua-Blake and Tohu Harris and hooker Wayde Egan – while three from that team – Bunty Afoa, Josh Curran and Tom Ale – are on the bench tonight.
After missing the 2022 season finale through injury winger Marcelo Montoya, centre Adam Pompey and half Shaun Johnson return but highlighting the selection are seven of the club’s acquisitions:
Match: Warriors v Knights
Round 1 -
Fullback for Warriors is number 1 Charnze Nicoll-KlokstadFullback for Knights is number 1 Lachlan Miller
Winger for Warriors is number 5 Marcelo MontoyaWinger for Knights is number 2 Hymel Hunt
Centre for Warriors is number 3 Brayden WiliameCentre for Knights is number 3 Enari Tuala
Centre for Warriors is number 4 Adam PompeyCentre for Knights is number 4 Bradman Best
Winger for Warriors is number 23 Edward KosiWinger for Knights is number 5 Dominic Young
Five-Eighth for Warriors is number 6 Te Maire MartinFive-Eighth for Knights is number 6 Kalyn Ponga
Halfback for Warriors is number 7 Shaun JohnsonHalfback for Knights is number 7 Jackson Hastings
Prop for Warriors is number 8 Addin Fonua-BlakeProp for Knights is number 8 Daniel Saifiti
Hooker for Warriors is number 9 Wayde EganHooker for Knights is number 9 Jayden Brailey
Prop for Warriors is number 10 Mitchell BarnettProp for Knights is number 10 Jacob Saifiti
2nd Row for Warriors is number 11 Jackson Ford2nd Row for Knights is number 11 Tyson Frizell
2nd Row for Warriors is number 12 Marata Niukore2nd Row for Knights is number 12 Lachlan Fitzgibbon
Lock for Warriors is number 13 Tohu HarrisLock for Knights is number 13 Kurt Mann
Interchange for Warriors is number 14 Dylan WalkerInterchange for Knights is number 14 Phoenix Crossland
Interchange for Warriors is number 15 Bunty AfoaInterchange for Knights is number 15 Adam Elliott
Interchange for Warriors is number 16 Josh CurranInterchange for Knights is number 16 Jack Hetherington
Interchange for Warriors is number 17 Tom AleInterchange for Knights is number 17 Leo Thompson
Replacement for Warriors is number 20 Freddy LussickReplacement for Knights is number 18 Jack Johns
- Referee: Chris Sutton
- Touch Judge: Liam Kennedy
- Touch Judge: Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski
- Senior Review Official: Ben Cummins
- Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad resumes his club career after 66 appearances for the Canberra Raiders over the last four seasons.
- Brayden Wiliame will become Warrior #273 when he starts in the centres after 46 earlier NRL appearances for Parramatta, Manly Warringah and St George Illawarra as well as a stint with Les Catalans in the Super League and a test of rugby union in France.
- Te Maire Martin is at standoff as Warrior #274 after a total of 68 appearances for Penrith, North Queensland and Brisbane.
- Starting at prop as Warrior #275 will be the seasoned Mitchell Barnett, who has played 126 times for Newcastle since 2016 following a two-match rookie season with Canberra in 2015.
- Jackson Ford becomes Warrior #276 as the first of two new second rowers after playing 33 times for St George Illawarra since his debut in 2019.
- Partnering him as Warrior #277 is Kiwi international Marata Niukore, a club junior who played in the NYC and the New South Wales Cup but now lines up in the jersey in the NRL for the first time after 96 games with Parramatta, the last in the 2022 grand final against Penrith.
- Rounding out the newcomers on the bench as Warrior #278 is gifted utility Dylan Walker, a grand final winner with South Sydney in 2014 who has made a total of 186 appearances for the Rabbitohs and Manly Warringah.
Webster’s first side reflects the 17 used in the 6-24 trial lost to Melbourne on February 19, the only change in the centres where Pompey comes in for Viliami Vailea.
This will be the first time in 25 years and just the third time in their history that the One Zealand Warriors have opened an NRL campaign on a Friday night; the last was against South Sydney in 1998 and the first unforgettably against Brisbane on March 10, 1995.
ONE NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS v NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS
8.00pm, Friday, February 28, 2023
Sky Stadium, Wellington
ONE NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS
1 CHARNZE NICOLL-KLOKSTAD
23 EDWARD KOSI
3 BRAYDEN WILIAME
4 ADAM POMPEY
5 MARCELO MONTOYA
6 TE MAIRE MARTIN
7 SHAUN JOHNSON
8 ADDIN FONUA-BLAKE
9 WAYDE EGAN
10 MITCHELL BARNETT
11 JACKSON FORD
12 MARATA NIUKORE
13 TOHU HARRIS (c)
14 DYLAN WALKER
15 BUNTY AFOA
16 JOSH CURRAN
17 TOM ALE
20 FREDDY LUSSICK (reserve)
Head coach | ANDREW WEBSTER