Via Warriors Media
Warriors halfback Chanel Harris-Tavita and second rower Eliesa Katoa come straight back into the starting side for Saturday’s 16th-round NRL encounter with the Newcastle Knights at Scully Park in Tamworth (3.00pm kick-off local time, 5.00pm NZT).
The match has special significance for the Vodafone Warriors as they return to the city which welcomed them in when they quarantined there more than two weeks after arriving from New Zealand on May 3 for the resumption of the 2020 season.
All tickets available for the ‘homecoming’ sold out almost two weeks ago.
For this critical contest, Harris-Tavita returns after undergoing head injury protocols following a training session collision with teammate Adam Keighran last week while Katoa was sidelined for the Canterbury Bankstown clash as he served a one-match suspension on a dangerous contact charge.
Harris-Tavita reclaims his halfback’s spot from his stand-in Paul Turner, so impressive on debut as Vodafone Warrior #249 in last Sunday’s 20-14 comeback win over the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs. Turner is included on the extended bench after a display in which he was close to scoring three tries, ran nine times for 72 metres, a game high seven tackle breaks and 20 tackles without a miss.
Outstanding rookie Katoa is back in the #11 jersey with his replacement Isaiah Papali’i named on the extended bench.
The rest of the side named is the same as the one used against the Bulldogs including an unchanged interchange bench of Wayde Egan, Adam Blair, Daniel Alvaro and Jack Murchie, which was so effective last Sunday.
In his 46 minutes on the field, dummy half Egan made 45 metres from four runs and made 27 tackles (no misses); in 40 minutes, Blair gained 108 metres from 12 carries, a line break, two off loads and made 20 tackles (no misses); in 28 minutes, Alvaro returned 89 metres from eight carries and made 26 tackles (two misses); and in his 48 minutes, Murchie provided 73 metres from seven runs and made 32 tackles as well as scoring two tries, producing a wonderful flick pass for Adam Pompey’s try.
The Vodafone Warriors’ third win in their last four matches moved them to 12 points in a share of ninth spot four points out of the top eight with five rounds of the regular season to play.
The performance was also notable for another superb contribution from the team’s back five with Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (334 metres from 26 runs), George Jennings (172 from 18), Adam Pompey (170 from 19), Peta Hiku (140 from 16) and Hayze Perham (77 from nine) accounting for almost 900 metres of the team’s total metres gained of 2043.
Second rower Tohu Harris, rookie prop Jamayne Taunoa-Brown and Blair will make their 16th appearances of the season this week, the only players who have played every match. Tuivasa-Sheck and Kodi Nikorima have missed just one each.