Via Warriors Media
Parramatta loan players Daniel Alvaro and George Jennings return after a one-game absence for the Vodafone Warriors’ 18th-round NRL match against the Cronulla Sutherland Sharks at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium in Sydney on Sunday (6.30pm kick-off local time; 8.30pm NZT).
Interchange prop Alvaro and winger Jennings made five appearances in the Vodafone Warriors’ run of four wins from five starts but Parramatta then opted not to allow them to line up against their contracted club in last Sunday’s contest in Gosford.
While agreement has been reached for them to reunite with their loan club, prop Jack Hetherington hasn’t been cleared by Penrith to return after completing his four-game suspension.
Jennings, who has averaged 155 metres and scored two tries since joining the Vodafone Warriors, regains his spot on the left wing replacing veteran Gerard Beale.
And Alvaro, a consistent contributor from the bench, comes back on the interchange for Josh Curran. He will play his 94th career match this weekend.
Alvaro and Jennings are the only personnel changes but interim head coach Todd Payten has made a switch in the forwards. Isaiah Papali’i starts in the front row after making 107 metres from 15 runs including 54 post-contact metres plus 38 tackles in his 62 minutes on the field against the Eels.
His inclusion sees Lachlan Burr revert to the bench after starting in the last four matches. He was moved to the run-on side after Hetherington was suspended.
With the Parramatta pair back, Payten has been able to name a full complement of 21 players after being left with just 20 fit players last week. Named on the extended bench are Curran, Paul Turner, Tom Ale and Beale with Adam Keighran dropping off.
Making their 18th consecutive appearances this season will be veteran middle forward Adam Blair, second rower Tohu Harris and rookie prop Jamayne Taunoa-Brown.
The Vodafone Warriors will strive to extend their run of form away from their Central Coast home base this week.
When the season resumed in May, they put together a run of three consecutive victories in Gosford over St George Illawarra, North Queensland and Brisbane but had four straight losses on the road against Penrith, South Sydney, Melbourne and Gold Coast.
Since then the record has flipped. The defeat by Parramatta was their fourth on end at Central Coast Stadium but they’ve won their last four away from Gosford against Wests Tigers, Manly Warringah, Canterbury Bankstown and Newcastle.
Among the losses at Central Coast Stadium was one of the most disappointing displays of the year when they went down 10-46 to Cronulla on July 19. Since then the Vodafone Warriors have strung together a seven-match series of committed performances; in their four-three win-loss run, the defeats have been by just eight points to defending premiers the Sydney Roosters (10-18), six points to competition leader Penrith (12-18) and six points again to third-placed Parramatta (18-24).
The Sharks remain eighth four points ahead of the Vodafone Warriors but have fallen to heavy losses to Penrith and Newcastle in their last three outings.
They have a strong recent record against the Vodafone Warriors, though, having lost just once (in Wellington last year) in the last seven encounters between the two sides.