Chanel Harris-Tavita is set to start at standoff in one of four changes in the top 17 players named for the Vodafone Warriors’ 21st-round NRL encounter with the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles at Mount Smart Stadium on Friday (8.00pm kick-off).
The 20-year-old Harris-Tavita played 59 minutes of last Friday night’s clash against the Canberra Raiders after replacing the injured Kodi Nikorima midway through the first half.
Nikorima (ankle) has been ruled out this week resulting in Harris-Tavita coming in for his eighth start in what will be his 10th appearance in his rookie season.
He scored his first NRL try in the 53rd minute of the Canberra game, added a second in the 71st minute and converted both to account for all of the Vodafone Warriors’ points in their 12-46 loss.
Also on the side-line with Nikorima is hooker Karl Lawton (shoulder), who was forced off the field against the Raiders leaving the Vodafone Warriors with just two bench players.
Coming onto the interchange for the Manly contest are half Adam Keighran and middle forward Ligi Sao along with front rower Sam Lisone.
Keighran had 14 minutes from the bench in the 22-24 loss to the Parramatta Eels before returning to the club’s Canterbury Cup side. He’s set for his fifth NRL outing this week.
Sao is also in line for his fifth NRL outing this year and his first since the 2-8 loss to Brisbane in Auckland in late May. Since then he has been leading the Canterbury Cup team in its climb to sixth with a run of strong form in recent weeks.
Lisone returns for his 83rd career appearance. He was given time back in the Canterbury Cup to boost his minutes on the field after being used for 18 minutes against the Sharks and 15 against the Eels. In 58 minutes with the reserve grade side last Saturday he ran 100 metres from 12 carries and made 21 tackles.
He made way for ex-Sydney Rooster Josh Curran to have his first outing for his new club last week; Curran is on the extended bench this week along with wing Adam Pompey, back rower Leivaha Pulu and utility back Hayze Perham.
A total of six front-line players are unavailable this week. Nikorima and Lawton join Tohu Harris (foot), David Fusitu’a (hamstring) and Nate Roache (knee) on the injured list while Issac Luke is suspended. Patrick Herbert has been named to return from a hamstring injury.
The Sea Eagles, sitting fifth on the NRL ladder, rival St George Illawarra as the Vodafone Warriors’ most challenging opponents. Manly holds a commanding 24-9 advantage in 33 encounters and leads 12-3 in clashes in Auckland.
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