Via Warriors Media
Warriors head coach Nathan Brown has included veteran halfback Shaun Johnson on the side’s extended bench for Saturday’s fourth-round encounter with the Brisbane Broncos at Moreton Daily Stadium (2.00pm kick-off local time; 5.00pm NZT).
The 31-year-old was expected to be out for three to four weeks with a pectoral strain he picked up in the first-round loss to St George Illawarra.
Listed in jersey #24, he is returning to team training this week which could see him come back into the line-up for his second appearance since re-signing with the Vodafone Warriors.
With the experienced Ash Taylor also on the injury list, Brown has named Kodi Nikorima and Chanel Harris-Tavita as the starting halves.
They became the third different halves duo in three rounds when they teamed up in last Friday night’s gritty 16-12 win over the Wests Tigers, the first time they had been used as a starting combination since June last year.
There’s only one change to the 17 fielded against the Tigers with second rower Bayley Sironen ruled out and Jack Murchie promoted from 18th man.
The team named features the same starting pack for third week on end.
With Matt Lodge recovered from the illness that severely limited his involvement against the Titans, he and fellow front rower Addin Fonua-Blake kept the Vodafone Warriors rolling up the middle of the park; Fonua-Blake made 150 metres from 15 carries, the third time he has made 150 or more metres this season, while Lodge was only fractionally behind with 148 from 18. They backed it up with their defensive work, Fonua-Blake with 27 tackles, Lodge with 27.
Consistent yet again was loose forward Josh Curran with 141 metres from 15 runs and 28 tackles, landing him two more Dally M points.
The Vodafone Warriors’ forward rotation was adversely affected by a cut eye which reduced second rower Eliesa Katoa to just 30 minutes but Katoa is fully recovered to face up to the Broncos.
The first game at the Vodafone Warriors’ 2022 home ground Moreton Daily Stadium gives the area a foretaste of a Brisbane derby ahead of the Dolphins joining the NRL next year.
The Broncos face a short trip north to face a Vodafone Warriors including one of their own in centre Jesse Arthars, who’s on loan this season.
Lodge is another ex-Bronco, having joined the Vodafone Warriors last year after playing 65 times for Brisbane from 2018-2021 while fullback Reece Walsh was in the Broncos’ system before he was signed early last season.
Yet another former Bronco is halfback Kodi Nikorima, who played 86 games for Brisbane from 2015-2019.
WARRIORS v BRISBANE BRONCOS
Moreton Daily Stadium, Brisbane
2.00pm, Saturday, April 2
1 REECE WALSH
2 ADAM POMPEY
3 JESSE ARTHARS
4 ROCCO BERRY
5 MARCELO MONTOYA
6 CHANEL HARRIS-TAVITA
7 KODI NIKORIMA
8 ADDIN FONUA-BLAKE (c)
9 WAYDE EGAN
10 MATT LODGE
11 EUAN AITKEN
12 ELIESA KATOA
13 JOSH CURRAN
14 JAZZ TEVAGA
15 BUNTY AFOA
16 AARON PENE
17 JACK MURCHIE
18 TANIELA OTUKOLO
20 BEN MURDOCH-MASILA
21 PRIDE PETTERSON-ROBATI
22 VALINGI KEPU
23 JUNIOR RATUVA
24 SHAUN JOHNSON
25 EDWARD KOSI
Head coach | NATHAN BROWN