Date: Sunday May 31 2015

Venue: Mount Smart Stadium

Kick-Off: 4pm (NZ time)

Warriors: 1 Sam Tomkins 2 Jonathan Wright 3 Tuimoala Lolohea 4 Solomone Kata 5 Manu Vatuvei 6 Chad Townsend 7 Shaun Johnson 8 Jacob Lillyman 9 Nathan Friend 10 Ben Matulino 11 Bodene Thompson 12 Ryan Hoffman 13 Simon Mannering (c). Interchange: 14 Siliva Havili 15 Seb Ikahihifo 16 Sam Lisone 17 Albert Vete

Knights: 1 Dane Gagai 2 James McManus 3 Sione Mata’utia 4 Joseph Leilua 5 Akuila Uate 6 Kurt Gidley 7 Tyrone Roberts 8 Kade Snowden 9 Adam Clydsdale 10 David Fa’alogo 11 Beau Scott 12 Tariq Sims 13 Jeremy Smith Interchange: 14 Tyler Randell 15 Chris Houston 16 Korbin Sims 17 Jack Stockwell 18 Joseph Tapine

Preview

Sam Tomkins makes his long awaited return from injury when New Zealand Warriors face Newcastle Knights at Mount Smart Stadium this Sunday.

Tomkins will play his first game since round three’s win over Parramatta where he left the field with a partial tear to the posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.  During his time on the sideline he penned a deal in April to return to Wigan after two seasons in the National Rugby League.  The Englishman’s impact has been limited despite his thirteen tries in twenty-six appearances to date.  His return is a boost at the expense of rookie Tuimoala Lolohea who did a decent job in the one jumper in Tomkins’ absence.

Sunday’s match will also see the return of Warriors legend Manu Vatuvei after missing their round ten victory over Parramatta in a dramatic golden point.

The win over Parramatta at Pirtek was one of the gutsiest in New Zealand Warriors history as they held on with fifteen fit players for the last hour.  Bodene Thompson the hero with the match winning try.  Andrew McFadden’s side sit on the right side of mid-table approaching the half way mark of the season.

Their focus this week will be to play a mistake free eighty minutes against an unpredictable Knights side, wary of outside backs Dane Gagai and Akuila Uate’s ability to finish.  Ryan Hoffman will have four days to back up from Origin to take his place in the side.  They are fresh after a bye last week.

Newcastle missed a golden opportunity to move into a five-way battle for fifth to ninth place in going down to an Anthony Milford inspired Broncos 31-18 at Hunter Stadium on Monday night.  It was the Knights sixth loss in seven games after four straight wins to start the season.  They are a side going backwards at the half way mark of 2015.

Adam Clydesdale is a welcome return to the Knights line-up for their trip across the ditch.  Rookie Tyler Randall is named to start from the interchange bench.  Beau Scott and Jeremy Smith missed Monday night’s loss and have been listed to play.  Joseph Tapine is the eighteenth man.  Clint Newton, Chad Redman and Pat Vaivai drop out of the squad.

Can the Knights do the impossible?  A lot of the responsibility is with Kurt Gidley and Tyrone Roberts to play smart footy and make the Warriors work hard for the two points.  Canterbury showed last week they could overcome a horrible month of footy and come out with a dominant first twenty in Canberra last week.  You get the feeling if the Knights can burst out of the blocks an upset is on the cards.  They will need to defy their record at Mount Smart having only won once since 2005.

Prediction New Zealand Warriors are the form team in this game and should get the two points at home. Warriors by 18.