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Matulino edges closer to Warriors comeback

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 18/04/2017

Prop Ben Matulino's comeback has moved a step closer with his inclusion in an extended 21-man squad for the Warriors' traditional Anzac Day NRL clash against the Storm in Melbourne next Tuesday.

Coach Stephen Kearney has included the 28-year-old Matulino in his line-up of eight interchange contenders.

The senior prop, four games short of becoming the club's fourth 200-game player, has been sidelined following knee surgery.

"Ben's getting closer," Kearney said.

"He has been making good progress since returning to full training and should be ready to play soon."

When he does make his comeback, Matulino will join the handful of players who have appeared across 10 NRL seasons for the Warriors: Stacey Jones, Awen Guttenbeil, Lance Hohaia, Jerome Ropati, Manu Vatuvei, Simon Mannering and Sam Rapira.

Matulino's inclusion is the only change from the 21-man squad initially named for last Saturday's clash against Canberra, a match the Warriors lost 20-8.

Next Tuesday's encounter will be the eighth Anzac Day match between the Storm and the Warriors since the fixture was first introduced in 2009.

On that occasion, the match finished in a 14-14 draw after golden point extra time.

Current assistant coach Stacey Jones lined up for the Warriors that day; of this year's squad, veteran back rower Simon Mannering, front rowers Jacob Lillyman and Matulino plus wing Manu Vatuvei played for the Warriors while Ryan Hoffman was in the Storm's line-up.

Warriors: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (captain), Blake Ayshford, David Fusitu'a, Solomone Kata, Ken Maumalo, Kieran Foran, Shaun Johnson, James Gavet, Issac Luke, Jacob Lillyman, Bodene Thompson, Ryan Hoffman, Simon Mannering. Interchange: Nathaniel Roache, Charlie Gubb, Ligi Sao, Sam Lisone, Ben Matulino, Bunty Afoa, Mafoa'aeata Hingano, Mason Lino.

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