Via Warriors Media
Second rower Marata Niukore is back from suspension but the One New Zealand Warriors will again be without hooker Wayde Egan for the traditional Anzac Day clash against the Storm at AAMI Stadium in Melbourne next Tuesday (7.00pm kick-off local time; 9.00pm NZT).
Niukore slots back into the second row alongside Jackson Ford after missing the last two matches against Newcastle and North Queensland due to suspension.
One New Zealand Warriors head coach Andrew Webster said a decision had been made to give Egan another week off after being concussed in the seventh-round loss to the Knights.
“Wayde was ruled out of the match against the Cowboys due to the NRL’s concussion protocols,” said Webster.
“He was cleared to come back against the Storm but we’ve decided to give him another week off in the interests of his welfare.”
It means the inbound Niukore is the only change to the 17 players used in the gritty 22-14 win over the Cowboys in front of a sold-out Mount Smart Stadium on Saturday night.
His returns results in Josh Curran moving to the interchange along with Bayley Sironen, Bunty Afoa and Tom Ale.
Dropping back to the extended bench is fullback Taine Tuaupiki who wasn’t used against North Queensland.
After being revealed as a late change to face the Cowboys, Marcelo Montoya – playing his 98th career match this week – is locked in as a centres partner to Adam Pompey with Dallin Watene-Zelezniak on the right wing.
On a night when the One New Zealand Warriors had just 44 per cent possession, the back five again made a telling contribution. Fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad (181 metres from 19 runs), Watene-Zelezniak (156 from 14) and Montoya (136 from 13) topped 100 metres while winger Edward Kosi (95 from 11) and Pompey (94 from six) weren’t far off.
The defence improved exponentially from the games against the Sharks and the Knights. In those two matches the One New Zealand Warriors missed a combined total of more than 60 tackles but against the Cowboys the missed tackles column was down to a season-best 17.
Sitting third on the ladder on 10 points, the One New Zealand Warriors’ 5-2 start to the season has been bettered only once in the club’s history (6-1 in 2018).
Now they face what has been a daunting assignment more often than not against the Storm, especially on Anzac Day.
At stake as always in encounters between the two clubs is the Michael Moore Trophy, a prize the Storm has held for the last 13 matches dating back to the One New Zealand Warriors’ last success (28-14) at Mount Smart in 2015.
The club’s last Anzac Day win was a 16-10 result in 2014 with the Storm prevailing in the last seven April 25 contests.
Felise Kaufusi and Kalyn Ponga return! Here's all the team news ahead of NRL Round 8 🙌
— NRL (@NRL) April 18, 2023
WARRIORS v MELBOURNE STORM
9.00pm NZT, Tuesday, April 25, 2023
AAMI Park, Melbourne
1 CHARNZE NICOLL-KLOKSTAD
2 DALLIN WATENE-ZELEZNIAK
3 MARCELO MONTOYA
4 ADAM POMPEY
5 EDWARD KOSI
6 DYLAN WALKER
7 SHAUN JOHNSON
8 ADDIN FONUA-BLAKE
9 FREDDY LUSSICK
10 JAZZ TEVAGA
11 JACKSON FORD
12 MARATA NIUKORE
13 TOHU HARRIS (c)
14 BAYLEY SIRONEN
15 JOSH CURRAN
16 BUNTY AFOA
17 TOM ALE
18 VILIAMI VAILEA
20 TAINE TUAUPIKI
21 RONALD VOLKMAN
22 DEMITRIC SIFAKULA
23 ZYON MAIU’U
Head coach | ANDREW WEBSTER