Via Warriors Media
Fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad and second rower Jackson Ford will miss playing alongside captain Tohu Harris in his landmark 200th NRL appearance when the One New Zealand Warriors face the North Queensland Cowboys at Queensland Country Bank Stadium in Townsville on Saturday (5.30pm kick-off local time; 7.30pm NZT).
Nicoll-Klokstad and Ford have been ruled out of the third-round match after failing to come through NRL concussion protocols. Ford was on the field for just two minutes of last Saturday’s match against the Sydney Roosters before being taken off after a head knock. He didn’t return. Nicoll-Klokstad left the field after 53 minutes for a head injury assessment following a collision with Roosters centre Joseph Suaali’i. He also failed concussion protocols and sat out the rest of the match.
In his absence new signing Taine Tuaupiki will become Warrior #279 when he lines up at fullback against the Cowboys.
The 23-year-old hails from the tiny settlement of Taharoa – also home to teammate Te Maire Martin – on the southern side of Kawhia Harbour. He impressed in the One New Zealand Warriors’ Preseason Challenge clash against the Wests Tigers on February 9 and has scored a try in each of the club’s wins in the opening two rounds of the New South Wales Cup.
He had an exceptional rookie season for the Burleigh Bears in the Queensland Cup last year when he won the Petero Civoniceva Medal as the competition’s best and fairest
while also being named the rookie of the year.
With Ford missing, head coach Andrew Webster has moved Mitchell Barnett from prop to the second row while Bunty Afoa has been named to start in the front row.
Coming onto the interchange is Bayley Sironen. As 18th man, he had 14 minutes on the field against the Roosters after the One New Zealand Warriors were able to use him after
losing two players to head injuries (Ford and Nicoll-Klokstad).
The ripple effect of losing the pair this week results in Jazz Tevaga and Rocco Berry being added to the extended bench.
After missing the last five rounds of last season and the opening match against Newcastle in Wellington, Tevaga made his comeback with a 32-minute stint in the New South Wales Cup last Saturday when he made 104 metres from nine runs plus 15 tackles without a miss.
A special focus for the One New Zealand Warriors this week is marking the superb Harris’ 200th NRL appearance. The 31-year-old has started the 2023 campaign exceptionally collecting seven Dally M points in the first two games to sit second on the leader board.
Used for the full 80 minutes against both Newcastle and the Roosters, he has made a total of 111 tackles already – 60 against the Roosters on Saturday – and averaged 145
metres a game.
Playing his 99th career game this week will be second rower Marata Niukore leaving him set to reach the 100-mark in the One New Zealand Warriors’ first match of the season at Mount Smart Stadium when they face the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs on March 26.
Both sides go into this week’s contest with identical win-loss starts to the season, the Warriors following their 20-12 win against Newcastle with a 12-20 loss to the Roosters while the Cowboys beat Canberra 19-18 before losing 16-28 to Brisbane last week.
WARRIORS v NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS
7.30pm (NZT), Saturday, March 18, 2023
Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Townsville
ONE NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS
1 TAINE TUAUPIKI
2 EDWARD KOSI
3 BRAYDEN WILIAME
4 ADAM POMPEY
5 MARCELO MONTOYA
6 TE MAIRE MARTIN
7 SHAUN JOHNSON
8 ADDIN FONUA-BLAKE
9 WAYDE EGAN
10 BUNTY AFOA
11 MITCHELL BARNETT
12 MARATA NIUKORE
13 TOHU HARRIS (c)
14 DYLAN WALKER
15 JOSH CURRAN
16 BAYLEY SIRONEN
17 TOM ALE
18 VILIAMI VAILEA
20 FREDDY LUSSICK
21 RONALD VOLKMAN
22 JAZZ TEVAGA
23 ROCCO BERRY
Head coach | ANDREW WEBSTER