Vodafone Warriors head coach Brian McClennan has today named an unchanged line-up for Sunday’s 13th-round NRL clash against the table-topping Melbourne Storm at Mount Smart Stadium (4.00pm kick-off).
He has retained the combination fielded in the 22-24 loss to Wests Tigers 11 days ago with Glen Fisiiahi chosen at fullback instead of Kevin Locke, who has had next to no football for two months after being out of action with leg and sternum injuries.
Locke was initially a chance to turn out for the Vulcans in the New South Wales Cup last weekend before later being scratched.
McClennan said Locke’s readiness to return to football was still being monitored.
“Glen came back into the side against the Tigers and did a good job for us. We have a lot faith in him,” he said.
The Vodafone Warriors will face a Melbourne side back in impressive form.
The Storm had their only loss of the year so far against Cronulla in the 10th round when they were beaten 12-10 at Toyota Stadium but, after their bye in round 11, they dismissed Brisbane 34-10 last Friday night, just 48 hours after this year’s opening State of Origin clash.
“With their Queensland players backing up, the Storm were really impressive the way they put the Broncos away,” said McClennan.
“It’s a massive challenge whenever you play against them and it’s always a huge occasion for our club taking them on. It’s one we look forward to and this one is no different.”
McClennan said there was cause for real disappointment with the loss to the Tigers, especially the way the side had played in the second half.
After leading 10-0 at halftime, the Vodafone Warriors quickly conceded their lead, regained it but then fell behind again.
The players had a few days off late last week but were back training yesterday before having their first field session of the week at Mount Albert Grammar School today, the second time this season the club has headed out into the community to train at a secondary school.
Mount Albert Grammar has produced a number of Kiwi rugby league internationals including Fred Ah Kuoi, Sonny Bill Williams, Steve Matai, Thomas Leuluai and Sam McKendry.
Sunday’s clash (Suzuki is the match day sponsor) will edge prop Ben Matulino closer to his 100-game milestone, this being his 98th appearance having played all 28 matches last season as well as each of the side’s 11 games so far this year. He is on target to play his 100th match in the away clash against Cronulla in the 15th round.
The Michael Moore Trophy will be at stake on Sunday, as it always is when the Vodafone Warriors face Melbourne. The Storm hold the trophy after their Anzac Day victory at AAMI Park. The Vodafone Warriors won two of the three encounters between the two sides last year.
Sunday, June 3
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
1.45pm: NYC: Vodafone Junior Warriors v Melbourne
4.00pm: NRL: Vodafone Warriors v Melbourne
VODAFONE WARRIORS v MELBOURNE
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
4.00pm, Sunday, June 3
1 GLEN FISIIAHI
2 BILL TUPOU
3 BEN HENRY
4 KONRAD HURRELL
5 MANU VATUVEI
6 JAMES MALONEY
7 SHAUN JOHNSON
8 RUSSELL PACKER
9 ALEHANA MARA
10 BEN MATULINO
11 ELIJAH TAYLOR
12 SIMON MANNERING (c)
13 FELETI MATEO
14 LEWIS BROWN
15 SAM RAPIRA
16 SIONE LOUSI
17 JACOB LILLYMAN
COACH: BRIAN McCLENNAN