Via Warriors Media
Peta Hiku and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak are eyeing their 150th milestone appearances while prop Jackson Frei has been named to make his debut in the Vodafone Warriors’ 22nd-round NRL encounter with Canterbury Bankstown at Redcliffe’s Moreton Daily Stadium on Sunday (1.50pm kick-off local time; 3.50pm NZT).\
With front row resources depleted by suspension, injury and unavailability, head coach Nathan Brown has called up the 23-year-old Queenslander Frei to start alongside in-form captain Addin Fonua-Blake.
Frei, who joined the Vodafone Warriors in 2019, was a regular for feeder club Redcliffe in the Intrust Super Cup until the latest Covid-19 lockdown put the competition on hold.
He will become the 34th player the Vodafone Warriors have used this season, the 15th to debut for the club and the sixth to play his first NRL game after Rocco Berry, Reece Walsh, Edward Kosi, Taniela Otukolo and Viliami Vailea.
In another key feature, experienced halfback Chad Townsend and hooker Wayde Egan are both on the extended bench after recovering from shoulder injuries.
Hiku is in the centres for his third match since returning from his long injury lay-off while Watene-Zelezniak has again been named on the right wing for his seventh outing since he joined the Vodafone Warriors in early July.
Whether Watene-Zelezniak makes it a double 150th celebration with Hiku is contingent on success at the NRL judiciary tonight when he fights a grade one contrary conduct offence he’s facing from Saturday’s brave 18-16 win over Cronulla Sutherland.
The Vodafone Warriors have already lost experienced front rowers Matt Lodge and Kane Evans after they took early guilty pleas on charges they picked up against the Sharks; Evans has been suspended for one match and Lodge for two.
With veteran Leeson Ah Mau cleared to return home early last month and Ben Murdoch-Masila out for the rest of the season with a foot injury, the Vodafone Warriors are left with only three established props in captain Addin Fonua-Blake, Bunty Afoa and Jamayne Taunoa-Brown.