Josh Curran has been ruled out of the One New Zealand Warriors’ 18th-round NRL encounter with the South Sydney Rabbitohs at Go Media Stadium Mt Smart tomorrow night (8.00pm kick-off; game day sponsor: One New Zealand).
Mitchell Barnett, returning from a one-match suspension, now moves off the bench to take Curran’s place with hooker Freddy Lussick added to the interchange alongside Dylan Walker, for South Sydney back rower Bayley Sironen and Tom Ale.
Centre Wiliame is 18th man with second rower Kalani Going also retained in the 19-man game day squad.
Along with Curran, halfback Ronald Volkman and prop Zyon Maiu’u have been omitted from the extended squad named on Tuesday.
The 29-year-old Barnett is making his third appearance since his comeback from the neck injury that ruled him out for 10 games following the third-round win over North Queensland.
Of Barnett’s five matches so far the Warriors have won four times, the last two against the Dolphins, when he made 147 metres and 28 tackles, and the Raiders (176 metres and 21 tackles).
Match: Warriors v Rabbitohs
Round 18 -
Fullback for Warriors is number 1 Charnze Nicoll-KlokstadFullback for Rabbitohs is number 1 Blake Taaffe
Winger for Warriors is number 2 Dallin Watene-ZelezniakWinger for Rabbitohs is number 2 Alex Johnston
Centre for Warriors is number 3 Rocco BerryCentre for Rabbitohs is number 18 Tyrone Munro
Centre for Warriors is number 4 Adam PompeyCentre for Rabbitohs is number 19 Taane Milne
Winger for Warriors is number 5 Marcelo MontoyaWinger for Rabbitohs is number 5 Richard Kennar
Five-Eighth for Warriors is number 6 Luke MetcalfFive-Eighth for Rabbitohs is number 6 Cody Walker
Halfback for Warriors is number 7 Shaun JohnsonHalfback for Rabbitohs is number 7 Lachlan Ilias
Prop for Warriors is number 8 Addin Fonua-BlakeProp for Rabbitohs is number 8 Tevita Tatola
Hooker for Warriors is number 9 Wayde EganHooker for Rabbitohs is number 14 Siliva Havili
Prop for Warriors is number 10 Bunty AfoaProp for Rabbitohs is number 17 Thomas Burgess
2nd Row for Warriors is number 11 Jackson Ford2nd Row for Rabbitohs is number 11 Keaon Koloamatangi
2nd Row for Warriors is number 15 Mitchell Barnett2nd Row for Rabbitohs is number 12 Michael Chee Kam
Lock for Warriors is number 13 Tohu HarrisLock for Rabbitohs is number 13 Cameron Murray
Interchange for Warriors is number 14 Dylan WalkerInterchange for Rabbitohs is number 9 Damien Cook
Interchange for Warriors is number 16 Bayley SironenInterchange for Rabbitohs is number 10 Hame Sele
Interchange for Warriors is number 17 Tom AleInterchange for Rabbitohs is number 15 Shaquai Mitchell
Interchange for Warriors is number 18 Freddy LussickInterchange for Rabbitohs is number 16 Davvy Moale
Replacement for Warriors is number 20 Brayden WiliameReplacement for Rabbitohs is number 20 Dean Hawkins
- Referee: Ashley Klein
- Touch Judge: Chris Sutton
- Senior Review Official: Grant Atkins
His inclusion is offset by the loss of Kiwi second rower Marata Niukore and Curran, Niukore out for three matches after taking an early guilty plea to a grade two careless high tackle charge he landed following the club’s 48-18 victory over St George Illawarra on Friday night.
The clash against the Rabbitohs marks the start of a nine-game run-in to the end of the regular season which sees the One New Zealand Warriors play six matches on home soil (one an ‘away’ game against Wests Tigers in Hamilton) with four of the five at Go Media Stadium all being played on a Friday night.
After winning three consecutive matches earlier in the season against North Queensland, Canterbury Bankstown and Cronulla Sutherland, the Warriors have the chance to go one better on Friday night coming off victories over the Dolphins, Canberra and St George Illawarra, matches in which they have totalled 114 points while conceding just 40.
They sit fifth on the ladder on 22 points with a 9-6 record, just two points off the top three on 24 points but only two clear of the teams ranked seventh, eighth and ninth. One of those teams is South Sydney which has uncharacteristically lost four of its last five games, including a 6-31 home defeat by North Queensland on Sunday.
It contrasts starkly with the Rabbitohs’ record against the One New Zealand Warriors over the last 10 years. In that time South Sydney has built a 13-1 record with the only exception being the Warriors’ 32-20 win in Perth in the first round of the 2018 season.
The last time the One New Zealand Warriors beat Souths at Go Media Stadium was in 2012 when they surged to a 44-22 win.