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Lisone, Vete ready to fill in for Matulino

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 3/02/2017

Sam Lisone. © Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images Sam Lisone. The loss of prop Ben Matulino was a bitter blow for the Warriors' early season ambitions but Sam Lisone is ready to step up to the plate.

The 22-year-old forward, entering his third year of NRL football, is likely to be entrusted with a more senior position as Matulino completes his knee recovery.

The Warriors veteran and 23-cap Kiwi underwent surgery in early January on a left knee injury, just three months after a procedure on his right knee.

He is unlikely to return in the early stages of the NRL campaign, with Lisone, Albert Vete and Charlie Gubb expected to stand in his shoes.

"It's not what we really wanted but I guess it's a challenge for us, Albert and Charlie, to step up and fill that void," Lisone said.

"It's going to be shared amongst us three, so we've just got to take it on."

Yet before a single ball is kicked in the 13-a-side format, Lisone will lace up for his third stint in this weekend's Auckland Nines.

A late injury inclusion, the two-time Samoa international was relishing the chance to hit the paddock alongside 44-year-old club legend Ruben Wiki.

The former Kiwis captain will skipper the side on his return to elite rugby league, having retired from the NRL in 2008.

He currently serves as the club's strength and conditioning coach.

Lisone hoped the tournament could propel the Warriors into a positive early season run, having struggled in the opening weeks of 2016.

Vete, who has been rested for this weekend's Nines, concurred.

He said the side had focused heavily on their defensive work in pre-season, having conceded the third-most tries last year with 101.

"Stephen (Kearney) has put down his expectations and a lot of the boys are stepping up and showing him what we've got in training," the 24-year-old said.

"That's the only way we're going to get into the team."

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