RD 1 TEAM: CHT TO FILL NO.1 HOLE, VAILEA GETS CENTRE NOD

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The first Team List Tuesday of 2022 ultimately threw up few surprises, though a couple of selection calls made by Nathan Brown for Saturday’s season opener against St George Illawarra Dragons may have seemed outlandish a couple of months ago.

As expected – after he spent a good chunk of the Warriors’ sole trial outing in the custodian role – Chanel Harris-Tavita will line up at fullback with Reece Walsh missing Round 1 through suspension. Kodi Nikorima has won the three-way battle to partner returning club legend Shaun Johnson in the halves, beating out Ashley Taylor, who is on the extended bench, and presumably ousting Harris-Tavita in the pecking order given Brown had the option of playing Test fullback Dallin Watene-Zelezniak or the versatile Jesse Arthars in the No.1 jersey.

The 19-year-old Viliami Vailea and Rocco Berry, 20, bring the combined experience of 10 NRL appearances to starting centre roles. Vailea, who played two late-season games in the top grade last year, beat out Arthars and Adam Pompey for a spot.

With Matt Lodge suspended, Bunty Afoa grabs a starting front-row berth alongside stand-in skipper Addin Fonua-Blake, with the only new Warrior named in the 17, Aaron Pene, and Ben Murdoch-Masila rounding out the prop rotation.

Euan Aitken and Eliesa Katoa will team up in the second-row with 2021 breakout forward Josh Curran named at lock in the absence of injured captain Tohu Harris. Jazz Tevaga will wear the No.14 jersey as a dummy-half/middle forward option and Bayley Sironen, who played most of last year in the second-row before finishing the campaign at lock, has also nabbed an interchange spot.

Arthars, Pompey, Ed Kosi, Taniela Otukolo and the yet-to-debut Pride Petterson-Robati are among the other faces on the extended bench.

WARRIORS v ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS

Sunshine Coast Stadium, Bokarina

7.30pm (NZT), Saturday, March 12

WARRIORS

1 CHANEL HARRIS-TAVITA

2 DALLIN WATENE-ZELEZNIAK

3 VILIAMI VAILEA

4 ROCCO BERRY

5 MARCELO MONTOYA

6 KODI NIKORIMA

7 SHAUN JOHNSON

8 ADDIN FONUA-BLAKE (C)

9 WAYDE EGAN

10 BUNTY AFOA

11 EUAN AITKEN

12 ELIESA KATOA

13 JOSH CURRAN

Interchange:

14 JAZZ TEVAGA

15 BEN MURDOCH-MASILA

16 AARON PENE

17 BAYLEY SIRONEN

18 JACK MURCHIE

20 ASH TAYLOR

21 ADAM POMPEY

22 PRIDE PETTERSON-ROBATI

23 TANIELA OTUKOLO

24 JESSE ARTHARS

25 EDWARD KOSI

Head Coach | NATHAN BROWN

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