Jazz Tevaga will make his comeback after more than 14 weeks on the sideline in the One New Zealand Warriors’ 23rd-round NRL clash against the Gold Coast Titans at Cbus Super Stadium in Robina tonight (6.00pm kick-off local time; 8.00pm NZT).
The livewire 27-year-old, named in jersey #18 on Tuesday, comes onto the interchange with prop Bunty Afoa moving off the bench to 19th man while fullback Taine Tuaupiki is 18th man.
Tevaga makes his long-awaited reappearance after being out since leaving the field with a calf injury just 22 minutes into the Anzac Day encounter with Melbourne.
His inclusion revives the potent partnership he formed with new recruit Dylan Walker in the earlier rounds of the season, the pair lifting energy levels and intensity when they operated in tandem in the middle of the park.
Their combined impact was telling as the One New Zealand Warriors put together a run of victories over North Queensland, Canterbury Bankstown and Cronulla Sutherland in rounds three, four and five before beating the Cowboys again in round seven.
The Warriors made a fizzing start against the Storm on Anzac Day leading 12-0 and then 18-6 before Tevaga’s night was ended by the calf issue which forced him to sit out more than three months and miss the club’s last 11 matches.
Match: Titans v Warriors
Round 23 -
Fullback for Titans is number 14 Jayden CampbellFullback for Warriors is number 1 Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad
Winger for Titans is number 2 Alofiana Khan-PereiraWinger for Warriors is number 2 Dallin Watene-Zelezniak
Centre for Titans is number 3 Brian KellyCentre for Warriors is number 3 Rocco Berry
Centre for Titans is number 4 Aaron SchouppCentre for Warriors is number 4 Adam Pompey
Winger for Titans is number 5 Phillip SamiWinger for Warriors is number 5 Marcelo Montoya
Five-Eighth for Titans is number 6 Kieran ForanFive-Eighth for Warriors is number 6 Luke Metcalf
Halfback for Titans is number 7 Tanah BoydHalfback for Warriors is number 7 Shaun Johnson
Prop for Titans is number 8 Moeaki FotuaikaProp for Warriors is number 8 Addin Fonua-Blake
Hooker for Titans is number 15 Chris RandallHooker for Warriors is number 9 Wayde Egan
Prop for Titans is number 10 Isaac LiuProp for Warriors is number 10 Mitchell Barnett
2nd Row for Titans is number 11 David Fifita2nd Row for Warriors is number 11 Jackson Ford
2nd Row for Titans is number 12 Joe Stimson2nd Row for Warriors is number 12 Marata Niukore
Lock for Titans is number 13 Erin ClarkLock for Warriors is number 13 Tohu Harris
Interchange for Titans is number 9 Sam VerrillsInterchange for Warriors is number 14 Dylan Walker
Interchange for Titans is number 16 Klese HaasInterchange for Warriors is number 16 Bayley Sironen
Interchange for Titans is number 17 Iszac Fa'asuamaleauiInterchange for Warriors is number 17 Josh Curran
Interchange for Titans is number 18 Keano KiniInterchange for Warriors is number 18 Jazz Tevaga
Replacement for Titans is number 19 Jacob Alick
Reserve for Warriors is number 20 Taine Tuaupiki
- Referee: Ben Cummins
- Senior Review Official: Kasey Badger
After a delayed start to the campaign he made a key contribution in his six appearances averaging 122 metres and 33 tackles a game, his partnership with fellow shaven-headed teammate Walker leading to them being dubbed the ‘bald brothers’.
For the sixth match on end head coach Andrew Webster has been able to select the same backline of Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Rocco Berry, the just re-signed Adam Pompey, Marcelo Montoya, Luke Metcalf and Shaun Johnson.
Utility forward Bayley Sironen will make his 50th appearance for the One New Zealand Warriors while Johnson will move within two games of his 250th career milestone and captain Tohu Harris will make his 97th appearance for the Warriors.
After winning five of their first 10 matches of the season, the Warriors have won seven of their last nine, a period which has seen them score 277 points (average: 30.77 a game) while conceding just 148 (average: 16.44 a game).
With a 12-7 record they sit third on the ladder with 30 points having conceded just 346 points, the second fewest so far this season.
They head into tomorrow night’s contest with an impressive 6-3 away record but the Titans have been challenging opponents in recent seasons winning four of the last five contest between the two clubs.
They’re coming off an impressive 22-13 win over North Queensland on Sunday which moved them to 12th on 22 points, four short of the eighth-placed Cowboys.