Via Warriors Media
First-year head coach Andrew Webster has named a powerful side for the One New Zealand Warriors’ second NRL Preseason Challenge clash against the Melbourne Storm at Orangetheory Stadium in Christchurch on Sunday (2.50pm kick-off).
The starting line-up is vastly remodelled from the combination used in last Thursday night’s impressive 48-12 trial win over Wests Tigers at Mount Smart Stadium.
New signings Brayden Wiliame, Te Maire Martin and Jackson Ford are again named with Martin this time moving from halfback to standoff with veteran Shaun Johnson in the #7 jersey.
The other starting player backing up from last week is hat-trick scoring winger Marcello Montoya.
Fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad and second rower Marata Niukore make their comeback appearances for the One New Zealand Warriors with fellow new signing Mitchell Barnett named in the starting front row.
Adam Pompey comes into the centres after representing the Māori All Stars for the first time in their 24-28 loss to the Indigenous All Stars in Rotorua on Saturday.
The other inclusions are Kiwi winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Mate Ma’a Tonga prop Addin Fonua-Blake, hooker Wayde Egan and captain Tohu Harris.
As indicated early in the preseason, Webster is looking to Dylan Walker to reprise the roving interchange role he filled at Manly in the #14 jersey while the other players in line for the bench spots for the season opener against Newcastle are middle forwards Bunty Afoa and Tom Ale – both starters against the Tigers – and back rower Josh Curran.
While Barnett and Walker will play for the One New Zealand Warriors for the first time, Nicoll-Klokstad last turned out for the club in 2018 and Niukore in 2017.
Of the first 17 players named, the only survivors from the line-up used in the final round against Gold Coast last season are Watene-Zelezniak, Fonua-Blake, Egan, Harris, Curran, Afoa and Ale.
The rest of the extended bench comprises other players from the top 30 NRL squad as well as promising development player Demitric Sifakula. Also named is fullback Taine Tuaupiki, just upgraded to the fulltime NRL squad.
The only NRL squad players not considered were Jazz Tevaga, Rocco Berry and Valingi Kepu who are all on the injured list.
The One New Zealand Warriors sit third on the Preseason Challenge ladder with 14 points after picking up the biggest win – and scoring the most points – in the opening round of the Preseason Challenge.
ONE NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS v MELBOURNE STORM
2.50pm, Sunday, February 19, 2023
Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch
ONE NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS
1 CHARNZE NICOLL-KLOKSTAD
2 DALLIN WATENE-ZELEZNIAK
3 BRAYDEN WILIAME
4 ADAM POMPEY
5 MARCELO MONTOYA
6 TE MAIRE MARTIN
7 SHAUN JOHNSON
8 ADDIN FONUA-BLAKE
9 WAYDE EGAN
10 MITCHELL BARNETT
11 JACKSON FORD
12 MARATA NIUKORE
13 TOHU HARRIS (c)
14 DYLAN WALKER
15 BUNTY AFOA
16 JOSH CURRAN
17 TOM ALE
18 RONALD VOLKMAN
20 LUKE METCALF
21 FREDDY LUSSICK
22 TAINE TUAUPIKI
23 BAYLEY SIRONEN
24 VILIAMI VAILEA
25 EDWARD KOSI
26 DEMITRIC SIFAKULA
Head coach | ANDREW WEBSTER
The injury-hit Storm will field the following team in Christchurch:
1. Nick Meaney 2. William Warbrick 3. Reimis Smith 4. Young Tonumaipea 5. Grant Anderson 6. Cameron Munster 7. Jahrome Hughes 8. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 9. Harry Grant 10. Christian Welch 11. Trent Loiero 12. Eliesa Katoa 13. Tom Eisenhuth 14. Bronson Garlick 15. Josh King 16. Chris Lewis 17. Tui Kamikamica 18. Jonah Pezet 19. Tyran Wishart 20. Xavier Coates 21. Joe Chan 22. Aaron Pene 23. Jordan Grant 24. Sualauvi Faalogo