A much-changed squad has been named for the One New Zealand Warriors’ final regular season match against the Dolphins at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Saturday (3.00pm kick-off local time; 5.00pm NZT).
Of the 17 players used in last Friday night’s top four-clinching 18-6 win over St George Illawarra, seven are out this week.
Captain Tohu Harris is being treated for back spasms which have ruled him out of the round 27 encounter and have him in doubt for the club’s week one finals match.
Standoff Luke Metcalf is also sidelined after picking up a moderate grade high hamstring strain against the Dragons. His return to play timeline is yet to be determined.
As well as Harris and Metcalf, head coach Andrew Webster said fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, halfback Shaun Johnson, front rower Addin Fonua-Blake and hooker Wayde Egan will miss the game to enable them to recover from a range of niggling issues they’ve been playing with recently.
In Harris’ absence, Dylan Walker comes into loose forward and will also captain the side.
Match: Dolphins v Warriors
Round 27 -
Fullback for Dolphins is number 1 Hamiso Tabuai-FidowFullback for Warriors is number 1 Taine Tuaupiki
Winger for Dolphins is number 2 Jamayne IsaakoWinger for Warriors is number 2 Edward Kosi
Centre for Dolphins is number 3 Tesi NiuCentre for Warriors is number 3 Rocco Berry
Centre for Dolphins is number 18 Valynce Te WhareCentre for Warriors is number 4 Adam Pompey
Winger for Dolphins is number 5 Jack BostockWinger for Warriors is number 5 Marcelo Montoya
Five-Eighth for Dolphins is number 6 Kodi NikorimaFive-Eighth for Warriors is number 6 Te Maire Martin
Halfback for Dolphins is number 7 Sean O'SullivanHalfback for Warriors is number 7 Ronald Volkman
Prop for Dolphins is number 8 Jesse BromwichProp for Warriors is number 8 Bunty Afoa
Hooker for Dolphins is number 9 Harrison GrahamHooker for Warriors is number 9 Freddy Lussick
Prop for Dolphins is number 10 Mark NichollsProp for Warriors is number 10 Mitchell Barnett
2nd Row for Dolphins is number 11 Felise Kaufusi2nd Row for Warriors is number 11 Josh Curran
2nd Row for Dolphins is number 12 Connelly Lemuelu2nd Row for Warriors is number 12 Marata Niukore
Lock for Dolphins is number 13 Kenneath BromwichLock for Warriors is number 13 Dylan Walker
Interchange for Dolphins is number 14 Jarrod WallaceInterchange for Warriors is number 16 Bayley Sironen
Interchange for Dolphins is number 15 Isaiya KatoaInterchange for Warriors is number 17 Tom Ale
Interchange for Dolphins is number 16 Max PlathInterchange for Warriors is number 18 Kalani Going
Interchange for Dolphins is number 17 Herman Ese'eseInterchange for Warriors is number 23 Paul Roache
Replacement for Dolphins is number 19 Mason TeagueReplacement for Warriors is number 20 Jacob Laban
- Referee: Gerard Sutton
- Touch Judge: Nick Morel
- Senior Review Official: Adam Gee
Replacing the injured Metcalf in his first NRL match since April 9 is Te Maire Martin, who impressed in his comeback for the club’s New South Wales Cup side in its 42-12 success against the Dragons last Saturday. In his 51 minutes on the field he produced two try assists, a line break, made 61 metres from 10 runs and added 11 tackles without a miss.
Edward Kosi, used on the wing in the first 10 matches of the season, replaces the prolific Watene-Zelezniak on the right wing, Taine Tuaupiki makes his fifth appearance of the year for Nicoll-Klokstad, Ronald Volkman is in at halfback for Johnson, Barnett starts in the front row for Fonua-Blake and Lussick takes over from Egan at hooker.
Two others making first-grade returns are centre Brayden Wiliame and middle forward Tom Ale, both included on the interchange.
Wiliame played in the first two NRL matches of the year before being hampered by leg injuries for long periods of the season but he returned with two tries for the New South Wales Cup side last weekend. After being used in the first 18 NRL matches of the season, Ale has been in the New South Wales team for its last five matches where he has averaged 155 metres and 24 tackles a game.
The extended bench comprises New South Wales Cup regulars Kalani Going, Jacob Laban, Ben Farr, Zyon Maiu’u and Paul Roache.
The changes mean centre Adam Pompey and winger Marcelo Montoya will be the only members of the squad to appear in all 24 matches of the regular season, Pompey with the distinction of being on the field for all 1842 minutes of the 23 games to date.
When the One New Zealand Warriors and the Dolphins met for the first time at Go Media Stadium on June 3, the Warriors won 30-8 to start a run which has seen them win 10 of their last 11 matches, a record only Brisbane can match; and since losing to Penrith in the Magic Round on May 6, they’ve triumphed in 11 of their last 13 games.
They go into Saturday’s contest with the chance of equalling the club record of eight wins on end and 17 victories in the regular season (both achieved in 2002); their tally of 16 wins this year is the outright second best in the club’s history.