Via Warriors Media
After just a few days in camp, new signing Matt Lodge has been immediately called in to make his club debut in the Vodafone Warriors’ 17th-round NRL encounter with the Cronulla Sutherland Sharks at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium in Sydney on Sunday (4.05pm kick-off local time; 6.05pm NZT).
The other selection features see fullback Reece Walsh and standoff Kodi Nikorima both returning from injury lay-offs along with rookie centre Rocco Berry (hamstring).
The 26-year-old Lodge, released by Brisbane just last Friday, comes straight into the starting line-up as Vodafone Warrior #263 to provide further experience and size to the pack.
Together starting props Addin Fonua-Blake and Lodge will give the Vodafone Warriors one of, if not, the biggest front rows in the club’s history; the 189cm Fonua-Blake weighs in at 123kg, the 191cm Lodge 117kg.
With Lodge starting, the seasoned Kane Evans moves to the bench alongside fellow props Bunty Afoa and Leeson Ah Mau and the imposing Ben Murdoch-Masila.
Lodge, who has made 77 appearances for the Wests Tigers and Brisbane in his disrupted career, provides a major selection boost at a challenging time for the Vodafone Warriors.
Already without Peta Hiku (shoulder), Chanel Harris-Tavita (pectoral) and David Fusitu’a (hamstring), they’ve lost two more frontline players to injury from last week’s golden point loss to St George Illawarra.
After making his return for the club last week, new signing Chad Townsend has been ruled out with a shoulder injury while inspirational second rower Tohu Harris (shoulder) is also on the side-line.
As well as that head coach Nathan Brown is still unable to call on centre Euan Aitken and back rower Josh Curran who remain in isolation for another week.
As well as Lodge, the other positives are Nikorima’s availability to come back into the halves with Harris-Tavita and Townsend both out while the impressive Walsh returns to add spark to the backline along with the highly promising Berry.
WARRIORS v CRONULLA SUTHERLAND SHARKS
6.05pm (NZT), Sunday, July 11, 2021
Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, Sydney
1 REECE WALSH
2 DALLIN WATENE-ZELEZNIAK
3 ROCCO BERRY
4 MARCELO MONTOYA
5 ROGER TUIVASA-SHECK
6 KODI NIKORIMA
7 SEAN O’SULLIVAN
8 ADDIN FONUA-BLAKE
9 WAYDE EGAN
10 MATT LODGE
11 ELIESA KATOA
12 BAYLEY SIRONEN
13 JAZZ TEVAGA
14 KANE EVANS
15 LEESON AH MAU
16 BUNTY AFOA
17 BEN MURDOCH-MASILA
18 ADAM POMPEY
20 JACK MURCHIE
21 TANIELA OTUKOLO
22 EDWARD KOSI
HEAD COACH | NATHAN BROWN