Ken Maumalo’s return from injury has seen Peta Hiku drop out of the Warriors’ starting line-up for the first time in 2018.
Hiku’s demotion to the bench – with Anthony Gelling dropping off the interchange – is the only change to the squad for Sunday’s blockbuster against Melbourne.
The versatile Hiku, one of only two players with Blake Green to feature in all 17 games for the club this season, responded impressively to being shunted to the wing against Brisbane in the wake of his Round 17 shocker against Penrith.
But Gerard Beale, a more sturdy defensive option, has been retained in the centres for the showdown with the in-form Storm, who would no doubt have targeted Hiku relentlessly.
The retention of teenage rookie Joseph Vuna on the interchange for his third NRL appearance ahead of Gelling comes as something of a surprise call from coach Stephen Kearney.
However, there could be a late change to the bench with Bunty Afoa named in the extended squad. The ultra-consistent prop was slated to be out for up to six weeks after dislocating his elbow against Cronulla in Round 16.
Meanwhile, James Gavet brings up 50 NRL appearances after debuting for Canterbury way back in 2012. The bruising prop has played 35 top-grade games since joining the Warriors in 2016.
Maumalo back, Gavet to hit 50 against Storm 😝v⚡️
— Vodafone Warriors (@NZWarriors) July 17, 2018
This Sunday will be the busiest game day programme of the season so far with a range of activities and attractions built around ‘The Great Vodafone Warriors Charity Day’ alongside a football triple header featuring the club’s NRL, Instrust Super Premiership and Jersey Flegg Cup teams in action.
Members and fans attending the occasion will all be helping the Vodafone Warriors in their bid to fill the stadium. If it is sold out, the club will donate $50,000 to be shared among the day’s beneficiaries Shine, KidsCan, Paralympics New Zealand and Ronald McDonald House Charities. Sponsor Mitre 10 has also made a pledge on the basis of the attendance numbers while other sponsors and stakeholders are contributing in various ways.
Vodafone Warriors players and football staff have also climbed aboard by donating items and experiences which are being auctioned off or used in a monster game day raffle.
Busiest game day programme of the season so far this Sunday. 🙌
— Vodafone Warriors (@NZWarriors) July 16, 2018
WARRIORS v MELBOURNE STORM
4.00pm, Sunday, July 22, 2018
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
1 ROGER TUIVASA-SHECK (c)
2 DAVID FUSITU’A
3 GERARD BEALE
4 SOLOMONE KATA
5 KEN MAUMALO
6 BLAKE GREEN
7 SHAUN JOHNSON
8 JAMES GAVET
9 ISSAC LUKE
10 AGNATIUS PAASI
11 ISAIAH PAPALI’I
12 SIMON MANNERING
13 ADAM BLAIR
14 JAZZ TEVAGA
15 CHRIS SATAE
16 JOSEPH VUNA
17 PETA HIKU
18 MASON LINO
20 KARL LAWTON
21 BUNTY AFOA
22 ANTHONY GELLING
GAME DAY DETAILS | v MELBOURNE STORM, SUNDAY, JULY 22
Match day theme | ‘The Great Vodafone Warriors Charity Day’
11.30am | Gates open
11.45am | Jersey Flegg Cup | Vodafone Junior Warriors v Sydney Roosters
1.45pm | ISP | Vodafone Warriors v Wyong Roos
4.05pm | NRL | Vodafone Warriors v Melbourne Storm