General Warriors name side for first game.

Wiki_old

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Utility Grant Rovelli's first-grade breakthrough and the comeback of former grand final winner Tony Martin are the features of the Warriors' side for Sunday's season-opener against Melbourne.

Head coach Ivan Cleary announced his side at the Warriors' season-launching Captain's Lunch at Ericsson Stadium on Tuesday, making special mention of the Queensland pair.

"It's a great reward for Grant and Tony for entirely different reasons," said Cleary ahead of his first-grade coaching debut.

"Grant could easily have played NRL football sooner when he was with the Roosters. He really deserves this chance after what he has done throughout the off-season and in our three trials.

"And Tony has done an outstanding job working his way back to reclaim a first-grade spot after his neck surgery last year."

Rovelli (22) spent three seasons playing premier league football, leading the Roosters to grand final success in 2004 and again playing in the title decider last year.

Able to play hooker, halfback or standoff, he'll start the Storm match on the bench where he's set to be used to rest starting hooker Lance Hohaia.

Martin (27), who was in Melbourne's title-winning side in 1999, is on the right wing against Storm in what will be his first NRL outing since injuring his neck in the round two encounter with Brisbane last March.

After surgery in June and a lengthy rehabilitation, Martin began his playing return at fullback in the Warriors' first two 2006 trials against Canberra and North Queensland. In the final trial against the Bulldogs, he came off the bench to fill the right winger's berth, scoring a try and kicking four goals from four attempts - two from acute angles - in the 24-20 win at Carrara Stadium.

As expected Nathan Fien will make his first start for the Warriors at halfback after alternating between hooker and standoff in 22 matches last year. Fien's former North Queensland team-mate Micheal Luck will make his first appearance for his new club.

"While our form could have been better in the trials, we came through them well on the injury front, allowing us to go with our strongest possible line-up," said Cleary.

That also sees Sione Faumuina teamed with Fien in the halves and a highly-experienced starting forward pack that averages 143 first-grade matches per man.

Included on the bench are young forwards Epalahame Lauaki and Evarn Tuimavave, who were barely used in 2005, Lauaki only five times and Tuimavave just twice.

"They've both worked hard and have earned selection," said Cleary.

In the corresponding match at Ericsson last year, the Warriors beat the Storm 24-16 before losing 10-22 in the return match in Melbourne.

The match kicks off at Ericsson Stadium at 2pm on Sunday.

Warriors: 1. Brent Webb, 2. Tony Martin, 3. Jerome Ropati, 4. Clinton Toopi, 5. Manu Vatuvei, 6. Sione Faumuina, 7. Nathan Fien, 8. Ruben Wiki, 9. Lance Hohaia, 10. Steve Price (capt), 11. Awen Guttenbiel, 12. Wairangi Koopu, 13. Louis Anderson. Bench: 14. Grant Rovelli, 17. Micheal Luck, 20. Epalahame Lauaki, 24. Evarn Tuimavave. 18th man Todd Byrne.
 

Guest

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Very strong side there, great to see. I dont necessarily see Sione as a 5/8, but I love the combo of him, Fien, and Hohaia, with Rovelli off the bench.
Looking foward to Sunday!
 

Wiki_old

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andytones said:
ooooh what about toddy :(

This is good. No one is guaranteed a spot!

Toddy is going to have to work if he wants it! Competition is great for the team.
 

Ronnie_7_old

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Woohhooooo. C'mon Sunday bring on the Storm. Like the look of this side.
 

Tajhay_old

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gotta feel sorry for byrne, but that is our strongest side. im still a lil unsure about martins pace, but like his defensive abilities.

woulda liked to have seen tuakura on the bench though.....

good start cleary.
 

tezzah_old

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No Toddy but where is BIG Georgy Tuakura- the most dominant forward runner off the bench! Hame and Evarn better secure there spot on the team if they dont want him to leap frog there spots!

as for Toddy- well, Martin played really well and i would have Martin off the bench with Todd starting winger! Good depth in the squad tho
 

Warrioraholic_old

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Maybe todd has a nigling injury as I cant see why he wouldnt get the nod? I mean he cant kick goals, but he was an awesome winger in our team when we had a very ordinary season
 

Jesbass_old

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That's a very strong side. Pity to see that Byrne couldn't make it, but that's life. He knows how to earn his way back into a first grade side.

Interesting to see that Villasanti isn't there - I wonder if that's due to form, or because the Warriors still want to use him to help bring them back under the salary cap. All speculation, of course.
 

PHANTOM MENACE_old

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Glad Hame is in the squad hopefully his year this year. Looks like Villa will be playing BC this year as he has been named in the development team coached by Tony Iro
 

Tajhay_old

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well by not picking villa its obvious that the club is telling villa that if he wants to play first grade he needs to leave the club. he is also offcontract this year. if he spends the entire season out of first grade, not too many teams will be lining up to get him for next season thus affecting the type of salary he will be getting on his next contract.

whats this talk about him not willing to surrender his aus passport for the spanish one, thus has to be regarded as an import on the quota in esl...wasnt there some talk of him wanting to play for nz this year?

if lauaki screws up in the first few games, drop him for the rest of the year i reckon. he has not shown much, besides mistakes. id rather see big george on our bench. he is old and is hungry to play for the team. he will be the perfect replacement for feka.

gee i hope the aucklanders go out in full support of the team this weekend!
 

ozbash_old

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ivan must be expecting wiki annd/or pricey to play the major part of the game by only naming 1 bench prop.

he has named 3 halfbacks in hohaia,fein and roveli.


martin is a center, byrne is a wing.

very dissapointing bench, vuna should be there.

still, good luck boys.

Warriors by 12.
 

Etern0L_Warrior_old

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Great team! Good to see Ropati there. But whats with dropping Byrne, he was our leading tryscorer. Instead we've got 2 average props on the bench, if they play crap then might as well drop 1 of em and put Byrne on the bench? I dunno

I guess its not only 2 players who must prove themselves, its the entire team. There's still 26 rounds for improvement.

good luck
 

Big Fobsta_old

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For his and the Warriors sake, I hope Guttenbeil has a great year and repays Cleary's faith in him.
 

Wiki_old

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Etern0L_Warrior said:
Great team! Good to see Ropati there. But whats with dropping Byrne, he was our leading tryscorer.

Yeah dude but he wouldn't have been if Vatuvei was there. 9 tries in 11 games from Manu.

I'm happy with the team. I never thought much of Hame so hopefully he proves me wrong.

I guess with us being disapointed in the bench it might just go to show the depth. I would love to see Rapira, Tuakura and Vuna there. Hell I really hope that Fai recovers and gets a crack. But in doing that we would have to drop players!! Maybe that goes to show that by having to remove some of these first graders (speculation on Toopi leaving) then Vuna WILL get a solid start next year? Who knows.

Regarding Villa: Cleary has told him that first grade opportunities would be limited this year. Its quite amazing actually because he was in the squad day in and day out last year yet he can't make our first grade squad this year. I don't want to speculate but maybe his off season wasn't that flash? Maybe he is not there because other guys like Hame (who Cleary said had a powerful offseason) pushed it that bit further.

I don't want to see Villa get tossed around but Cleary did say his chances will be limited at the Warriors this year.
 

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