Date: Saturday 12th July
Venue: MT Smart Stadium
Time: 7:30pm (local)
Warriors: Sam Tomkins, David Fusitu’a, Konrad Hurrell, Dane Nielsen, Manu Vatuvei, Chad Townsend, Shaun Johnson, Jacob Lillyman, Nathan Friend, Suaia Matagi, Jayson Bukuya, Simon Mannering (c), Sebastine Ikahihifo. Interchange: Feleti Mateo, Ben Matulino, Ben Henry, Charlie Paul-Gibb, Raymond Faitala-Mariner
Eels: Chris Sandow, Semi Radrada, Ryan Morgan, Willie Tonga (c), Vai Toutai, Corey Norman, Luke Kelly, Darcy Lussick, Isaac de Gois, Junior Paulo, David Gower, Pauli Pauli, Joseph Paulo. Interchange: Fuifui Moimoi, Mitchell Allgood, Peni Terepo, Ken Sio
New Zealand Warriors’ third consecutive home match sees experienced Ben Matulino return to first-team action, after missing the last two home wins at MT Smart Stadium following minor knee surgery. The 25 year old has been named on the bench in what will be his 144th career outing, with the only change to the starting line-up coming from prop Suaia Matagi replacing the injured Sam Rapira (back).
Last time out, two tries from Konrad Hurrell inspired Warriors to a 30-20 victory over Penrith Panthers and the 22 year old is expected to be the shining light against the Parramatta Eels. With four tries in the club’s three games at Saturday’s ground, Hurrell will make his 50th appearance and coach Andrew McFadden will look for his centre to build on the 33 tries he already has for the club.
Warriors sit seventh in the table, only four points from top spot in a NRL table that is tightly congested with just four points separating the top ten sides in the standings. Their opponents on Saturday are on the same points, but while the Warriors have six wins in their last eight outings, the Eels have lost four of their last eight.
Another negative for Parramatta head coach Brad Arthur is Jarryd Hayne’s exclusion from the squad to take on the Warriors. Chris Sandow has been listed in the fullback position, with Hayne missing out completely, and Luke Kelly makes a rare appearance in the side alongside five-eighth Chris Norman.
Eels have suffered with injuries this season and have received another untimely worry with Lee Mossop ruled out for the rest of the season. The former Wigan man’s debut campaign has not been as successful as expected and his chance to face former Wigan teammate Sam Tomkins on Saturday has been denied.
There are plenty more injury problems with Will Hopoate, Nathan Peats and Manu Ma’u all suffering. Peats and Ma’u have been replaced by Ryan Morgan and Isaac de Gois, a mid-season acquisition from strugglers Cronulla Sharks. Co-captain Tim Mannah is also unavailable with injury, so Darcy Lussick will start in the front row.
Last time out, Parramatta lost 16-10 to the Newcastle Knights in a pulsating game and will be keen to do the double over Warriors. The opening round of the 2014 NRL season at Pirtek Stadium saw the Eels destroy Warriors 36-16.