Via Warriors Media
Luke Metcalf will team up in the halves with Shaun Johnson for his One New Zealand Warriors debut against the Brisbane Broncos in Saturday’s historic NRL match at Napier’s McLean Park (7.30pm kick-off).
The 24-year-old has been named at standoff after a 40-minute try-scoring comeback appearance for the club’s New South Wales Cup side on May 13.
He replaces Ronald Volkman in a line-up featuring two injury-enforced changes with hooker Wayde Egan (calf) and interchange utility Dylan Walker (toe) both ruled out.
Freddy Lussick is named at hooker with Josh Curran moving back to the interchange bench as a result of first-choice second rower Jackson Ford returning from a head knock. Two-game rookie Demitric Sifakula is added to the bench alongside Bayley Sironen and Tom Ale .
Metcalf’s debut as Warrior #281 will be his eighth first-grade outing after seven games for Cronulla Sutherland in 2021 and 2022.
While Metcalf and Johnson were teammates at the Sharks it will be the first time the pair have played an NRL match together.
Metcalf was superb in the One New Zealand Warriors’ 48-12 Preseason Challenge win over the Wests Tigers on February 9 but picked up a hamstring injury on the training field days later, a setback which forced him to miss the first 10 rounds of the season.
He marked his comeback in the New South Wales Cup with a try in the One New Zealand Warriors’ 14-14 draw with Canterbury Bankstown.
McLean Park is sold out for the club’s first match in Napier but the second NRL match played in the Hawke’s Bay.
Warriors captain Tohu Harris will have the distinction of being involved on both occasions.
He was in the centres for the Melbourne Storm when they took their home game against St George Illawarra to Napier in 2015, a match Melbourne won 22-4.
On Saturday he’ll have the honour of leading the Warriors onto the ground in front of family, friends and fans as they look to improve their promising start to the season.
They head into the 13th round with a 6-5 win-loss record lying seventh on the ladder on 14 points just two points off the lead shared by five teams.
After having the bye for last weekend’s Indigenous Round, the One New Zealand Warriors will wear their 2023 Indigenous strip – Te Kāhu Kura – in Saturday’s contest.