TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Duo named for Perth trip
Vodafone Warriors winger Manu Vatuvei (pictured) and prop Russell Packer have both been named for Sunday’s 17th-round clash against NRL competition leader South Sydney at NIB Stadium in Perth (4.30pm kick-off local time; 8.30pm NZT). Photo: Photosport.
Vatuvei was forced off the field with a leg injury after 52 minutes of last Sunday’s 18-16 win against Brisbane while Packer was ruled out of the match with an ankle injury.
Vodafone Warriors head coach Matthew Elliott included both senior players today in anticipation they will be able to travel with the team on Friday for the NRL’s longest trip.
“Hopefully they’ll be fine to play this weekend,” said Elliott.
“Manu has a contusion on his (right) shin which is responding to treatment while Russell is also a chance to return.”
To cover options, Elliott has named a seven-man bench including cover for Vatuvei in seven-game rookie Ngani Laumape and he has included back up for Packer in Vulcans regulars Suaia Matagi and Charlie Gubb.
Matagi made his third NRL appearance last Sunday while Gubb, consistently outstanding in the New South Wales Cup, is yet to appear at NRL level.
The Vodafone Warriors take the NRL’s best recent run of form – five straight wins – into Sunday’s contest in Perth, facing the competition’s most impressive side of the season so far in the Rabbitohs. They top the points table with 28 points, four clear of the second-placed Sydney Roosters, having won their last four matches with only two defeats in 15 starts.
“We’ve had a series of really tough contests lately, especially the ones against Manly, the Roosters and Brisbane,” said Elliott.
“We’ve had our character tested each time but now we go to another level again. This is unquestionably our ultimate test given the way the Rabbitohs have been performing.”
The Vodafone Warriors’ five-game winning streak has been bettered only twice in the club’s history (six wins in 1995 and the club record eight in 2002).
If Vatuvei recovers he’ll be seeking to maintain an exceptional run of form which has seen him score 10 tries in his last nine appearances and 19 in his last 22 games stretching back to midway through last season.
Also fashioning an eye-catching scoring sequence is halfback Shaun Johnson who has kicked 15 consecutive goals across his last four games. After missing his first three attempts against Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium, he kicked eight on end in the 56-18 success, three from three in the 18-16 win against Manly, one from his only attempt in the 23-12 victory against the Sydney Roosters and all three attempts against the Broncos on Sunday.
VODAFONE WARRIORS v SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS
NIB Stadium, Perth
4.30pm, Sunday, July 07
Referees: Ashley Klein and Dave Munro
1 KEVIN LOCKE
2 GLEN FISIIAHI
3 DANE NIELSEN
4 KONRAD HURRELL
5 MANU VATUVEI
6 THOMAS LEULUAI
7 SHAUN JOHNSON
8 SAM RAPIRA
9 NATHAN FRIEND
10 BEN MATULINO
11 FELETI MATEO
12 SIMON MANNERING (c)
13 ELIJAH TAYLOR
14 RUSSELL PACKER
15 JACOB LILLYMAN
16 TODD LOWRIE
17 DOMINIQUE PEYROUX
18 NGANI LAUMAPE
20 SUAIA MATAGI
21 CHARLIE GUBB
HEAD COACH: MATTHEW ELLIOTT