You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Omens promising for Warriors NRL opener

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 28/02/2017

Albert Vete. © Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images Albert Vete. It's been eight years since the Warriors opened their NRL season with a win, but the omens are good for this Sunday's match against the Newcastle Knights at Mount Smart Stadium.

The last time the Warriors hosted a first-round match at their home ground was in 2009, when they beat the Parramatta Eels 26-18.

The Warriors also have an impressive recent record against Newcastle, having won 10 of the last 11 contests at Mount Smart stretching back to 2006.

Coach Stephen Kearney has retained the same starting line-up he used in the club's final trial match, a 26-6 win over the Gold Coast Titans two weeks ago in Palmerston North.

Albert Vete and Charlie Gubb will again start in the front row, with Ata Hingano confirmed at standoff, Ken Maumalo on the left wing, and Ryan Hoffman and Bunty Afoa paired in the second row.

The match doubles as Roger Tuivasa-Sheck's first NRL outing since April 16 last year and also his first-grade debut as captain.

"Those players earned the opportunity for the first match of the season," Kearney said.

"There were a lot of good signs from them against the Titans. Having said that, there are lots of areas we need to improve on."

The NRL has instituted a new team-naming protocol this season which requires all clubs to list 21 players each Tuesday with the squad to be trimmed to 19 24 hours before the game.

The final playing 17 - confirmed an hour before kick-off - must come from the 19-man group.

Kearney has included two players on the extended bench who are in line to make their NRL debuts - 18-year-old second rower Isaiah Papali'i and 19-year-old utility Erin Clark.

Seasoned Jacob Lillyman and Sam Lisone, closing in on 50 NRL appearances, are also on the interchange along with second rower Bodene Thompson, halfback Mason Lino, prop James Gavet and centre Blake Ayshford.

Warriors: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (captain), Tuimoala Lolohea, David Fusitu'a, Solomone Kata, Ken Maumalo, Mafoa'aeata Hingano, Shaun Johnson, Albert Vete, Issac Luke, Charlie Gubb, Bunty Afoa, Ryan Hoffman, Simon Mannering. Interchange: Erin Clark, Jacob Lillyman, Sam Lisone, Isaiah Papali'i, Bodene Thompson, Mason Lino, James Gavet, Blake Ayshford.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon