Via Warriors Media
Te Maire Martin and Shaun Johnson have been reunited in the halves but second rower Marata Niukore is out for the One New Zealand Warriors’ sixth-round NRL clash against Newcastle at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday (6.15pm kick-off local time; 8.15pm NZT).
Martin replaces Ronald Volkman after concussion protocols ruled him out of last Sunday’s dramatic 32-20 victory over Cronulla-Sutherland while Niukore is suspended for the next two matches following an early guilty plea on a dangerous contact charge.
Niukore, who scored his first try for the club on Sunday, is replaced by Bayley Sironen with captain Tohu Harris named in the hope he will recover from the knee injury which ruled him out of the encounter with the Sharks.
Josh Curran, who made a telling late impact against Cronulla, is on the interchange after being a late replacement for Harris last weekend.
In another feature highly-experienced Kiwi winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak is included on the extended bench as he returns from the calf injury which side-lined him following the club’s second trial against Melbourne in Christchurch in February.
A significant points-scoring milestone is within reach of player of the moment Johnson this weekend.
After picking up 16 points against the Sharks, he’s on 997 points for the One New Zealand Warriors needing just three more to become the first player in history to reach the 1000-point mark for the club.
Johnson nailed the maximum six Dally M points as he orchestrated arguably the most astonishing comeback in the club’s history after being 0-20 behind just 18 minutes into the contest.
It wasn’t the biggest. That belongs to the 2021 side which came back from 21 points down (10-31) after 51 minutes to beat the Raiders 34-31 in Canberra.
The effort against the Sharks equalled the margin in another unforgettable fightback in 2005 when the Warriors also recovered from a 0-20 deficit to win 30-26 in Newcastle.
The One New Zealand Warriors and Newcastle meet for the second time in the opening six weeks of the season on Sunday.
The Andrew Webster-coached side launched their campaign with a solid 20-12 home win over the Knights at Sky Stadium in Wellington on March 3.
Sunday’s win over the Sharks boosted them to a 4-1 record, a start bettered only by the 2018 side’s 5-0 effort. It leaves them sitting second on the ladder, matching the 2018 team’s position at the same stage.
The Knights have gone on to produce wins over the Wests Tigers and Canberra plus an extra-time 32-32 draw with Manly Warringah last week.