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Vodafone Warriors head coach Ivan Cleary has made some key changes to his line-up for Saturday nightÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s NRL encounter with St George Illawarra in Wollongong.
After being on interchange bench for the first eight matches of the regular season campaign, former Sydney Roosters premier league halfback Grant Rovelli has been promoted to start in the No 7 jersey.
The experienced Nathan Fien, who has been the starting halfback in every match so far, switches to hooker where he started in 11 of his 22 games last season.
Simon Mannering, who had his first NRL outing of the year against the Bulldogs on April 30, will start in the centres against the Dragons while Sione Faumuina is in the run-on side at loose forward.
Those changes see hooker George Gatis and Kiwi test centre Clinton Toopi moved to the bench while ToopiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s fellow international Louis Anderson is being rested this week.
Manu Vatuvei, the 2005 international rookie of the year, has been included on a five-man bench as he looks to return to action after missing the Vodafone WarriorsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ last four games and the Anzac Test with a hamstring injury. Also set to return from a hamstring injury is vice-captain Ruben Wiki, who was unable to play against the Bulldogs or in the Anzac Test.
Cleary said the 20-year-old Anderson needed to freshen up after a demanding programme since his NRL debut in early 2004. He has made 13 consecutive test appearances since his Kiwi debut late that season Ã¢â‚¬â€œ including two end-of-year Tri-Nations campaigns Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and has also played 42 first-grade matches for the Vodafone Warriors.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a lot of football for a young player and as a result LouisÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ form hasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t been up to his usual standard lately,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Cleary.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“He needs a rest and heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll have this weekend off to get away from football for a few days.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Cleary said the decision to start Mannering in the centres and move Toopi to the bench was also form-related.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Clinton hasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t consistently reached his best standards either where Simon is coming in freshened up.Ã¢â‚¬Â
A review of the teamÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s performances in the first eight rounds had brought about the changes, especially those at hooker and halfback.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve had a good look at what weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve done in the first eight games and where we want to go now,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Cleary.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“As a result of our review weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve decided we want to have a look at Grant at halfback. He has proved so far that he can handle the step up to NRL and weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d now like to see him in his preferred position.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“With Nathan, we know what heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s capable of at hooker. We saw that last year and he has also played State of Origin in tha position.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Vatuvei, Todd Byrne and Misi Taulapapa are competing for the two wingersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ spots for the clash against the Dragons. A final choice wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be made until the day of the match.