WARRIORS TO APPEAL BUNTY CHARGE AS HIKU NABS BENCH SPOT

Via Warriors Media

Veteran hooker Issac Luke is set to bring up his 250th career appearance when he lines up in an unchanged starting side for the Vodafone Warriors’ Harvey Norman Women in League clash against Newcastle at Mount Smart Stadium on Friday night (8.00pm kick-off; match day sponsor: Harvey Norman).

The 31-year-old Luke, who has been in outstanding form this season, was on target to achieve the 250-game milestone against St George Illawarra last weekend until a calf injury side-lined him for the Gold Coast defeat on July 29.

Returning for his 249th game last weekend, Luke produced another stellar performance in the memorable 18-12 win over the Dragons. He scored a try – his fifth of the season – made five dummy half runs and came up with 49 tackles.

The 43-Test Kiwi plays his 62nd game for the Vodafone Warriors on Friday after moving to Mount Smart Stadium in 2016 following 188 games for South Sydney since his debut in 2007.

Luke will take his place in a starting line-up unchanged from the one used in the club’s first win over the Dragons in 11 attempts at Wollongong’s WIN Stadium.

Adam Blair will again be on the right edge this week with Simon Mannering at loose forward for his 297thNRL appearance.

Bunty Afoa has been included on the bench with the club hoping to overturn a one-match suspension he’s facing for a dangerous contact charge from Saturday’s match.

Also listed in the four frontline choices on the bench are utility Jazz Tevaga – coming off an exceptional 56 tackles on Saturday – plus Leivaha Pulu and utility back Peta Hiku.

The other four players completing the extended bench are centre Anthony Gelling, back rower Joseph Vuna, prop Chris Satae and hooker Karl Lawton.

Friday’s night encounter is the only meeting between the Vodafone Warriors and the 11th-placed Knights this season.

Having achieved the best away record in the club’s history last week – 8-3 with one game to go – the Vodafone Warriors go into the match in eighth spot on 26 points. A win in this match would give them their 13th victory of the year, their best regular-season return since 2011.

In 38 matches so far, the Vodafone Warriors have a 19-18 edge over Newcastle with one match drawn.

The Knights won the last time the teams met in Newcastle last year following four wins on end by the Vodafone Warriors. The Vodafone Warriors have won 11 of the last 12 matches against the Knights in Auckland, their last loss coming in 2012.

WARRIORS v NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS
8.00pm, Friday, August 10, 2018
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland

WARRIORS

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 ADAM BLAIR
13 SIMON MANNERING
Interchange:
14 JAZZ TEVAGA
15 LEIVAHA PULU
16 BUNTY AFOA
17 PETA HIKU
18 ANTHONY GELLING
20 JOSEPH VUNA
21 CHRIS SATAE
22 KARL LAWTON

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