No late changes have been made to the One New Zealand Warriors’ line-up for their 14th-round NRL clash against the Dolphins at Go Media Stadium Mt Smart today (5.00pm kick-off).
The home side will start as selected with the only change to the 17 on the interchange where middle forward Tom Ale was elevated last night to replace utility Dylan Walker (toe).
Fullback Taine Tuaupiki is 18th man and halfback Ronald Volkman 19th.
Along with Walker the other players to drop out of the initial 22-man squad were Demitric Sifakula and Ali Leiataua.
While Walker is out hooker Wayde Egan (calf) and forward Mitchell Barnett are confirmed starters.
Barnett is included on the interchange bench after being side-lined with a neck injury picked up in the round three win over North Queensland in Townsville on April 15.
Match: Warriors v Dolphins
Round 14 -
Venue: Go Media Stadium, Auckland
Egan was ruled out of last Saturday night’s match against Brisbane in Napier but will significantly boost the side this week.
Egan (26) plays his 96th match tomorrow while Barnett (29) is on track for his 132nd career game.
Egan comes in for Freddy Lussick – out with concussion – in the only change to the starting line-up used in the 22-26 13th-round loss to the Broncos.
The home side lies eighth on 14 points going into this round while the Dolphins are sixth on 16.
History will be a theme of the day with the One New Zealand Warriors playing the NRL newcomers for the first time.
The Dolphins boast strong New Zealand links with their squad featuring former Warriors Euan Aitken – the club’s 2022 player of the year – and Kodi Nikorima as well as Auckland-born and raised Kiwis Jesse and Kenny Bromwich, Christchurch-born New Zealand international Jamayne Isaako (the competition’s leading points scorer), Whakatane-born Kiwi hooker Jeremy Marshall-King and Aucklander Herman Ese’ese, a Kiwi in 2018. Four other players in the squad used last weekend were also born in New Zealand – Anthony Milford (Auckland), Isaiya Katoa (Lower Hutt), Valynce Te Whare (Auckland) and Poasa Faamausili (Auckland), who played for the Warriors on loan in 2020.
The One New Zealand Warriors will mark the 20th anniversary of one of the club’s best seasons in this match when they don a replica of the club’s famed 2003 black and grey strip. In that memorable campaign the Warriors fell one win short of a second consecutive grand final appearance.
Among a string of unforgettable matches was the stunning week one finals demolition of the Bulldogs when winger Francis Meli scored a record five tries in the 48-22 victory.