The Panthers come into this match on the back of four straight wins but will be without NSW halfback Nathan Cleary while the Warriors have hit some patchy form in recent weeks. Jem Nash previews …..
TEAM FORM GUIDE
New Zealand Warriors
The Warriors have won just one of their last three matches, their last start an ugly win over the Titans prior to the representative weekend. The 2019 season seems to be another case of the Warriors failing to live up to their potential. On their best day, the Warriors are beautiful to watch but when they’re off they are really off.
The Panthers last loss came against the Warriors back in Round 10. Since then, they have won four straight and against some quality opposition including the Roosters and the Rabbitohs. With a poor for and against, they are yet to move up the ladder but the Panthers are playing with much more enthusiasm and look like they’re enjoying their footy once again.
New Zealand Warriors
Tohu Harris is out with a knee injury with Jazz Tevaga coming into back row in his place. Nathaniel Roache returns on the bench in place of Isaac Luke, while Sam Lisone and Leivaha Pulu also come onto the bench.
New Zealand Warriors squad: 1 Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, 2 David Fusitu’a, 3 Peta Hiku, 4 Patrick Herbert, 5 Ken Maumalo, 6 Kodi Nikorima, 7 Blake Green, 8 Agnatius Paasi, 9 Karl Lawton, 10 Leeson Ah Mau, 11 Adam Blair, 12 Isaiah Papali’i, 13 Jazz Tevaga Interchange: 14 Nathaniel Roache, 15 Bunty Afoa, 16 Sam Lisone, 17 Leivaha Pulu Reserves: 18 Gerard Beale, 20 Ligi Sao, 21 Chris Satae, 22 Chanel Harris-Tavita
Jarome Luai comes into the halves in place of the injured Nathan Cleary, while Hame Sele joins the bench. Dean Whare has also been named in the reserves and could be a late inclusion in the final 17.
Penrith Panthers squad: 1 Dylan Edwards, 2 Josh Mansour, 3 Isaah Yeo, 4 Brent Naden, 5 Brian To’o, 6 Jarome Luai, 7 James Maloney, 8 James Tamou, 9 Mitchell Kenny, 10 James Fisher-Harris, 11 Viliame Kikau, 12 Frank Winterstein, 13 Liam Martin Interchange: 14 Wayde Egan, 15 Reagan Campbell-Gillard, 16 Moses Leota, 17 Hame Sele Reserves: 18 Kaide Ellis, 19 Malakai Watene-Zelezniak, 20 Sione Katoa, 21 Dean Whare
HEAD TO HEAD
The Warriors thumped the Panthers 30-10 the last time these two sides met to hand Penrith their sixth straight loss. Kodi Nikorima and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck were at their devastating best that night while the Panthers failed to capitalise on their numerous scoring opportunities.
Since then, the Panthers have not lost and they will be hoping to continue that streak this weekend.
James Maloney vs Blake Green. Blake Green has thrived in the halfback role since taking over from Shaun Johnson, and his combination with Kodi Nikorima will only improve with time.
Since being snubbed for Origin One, James Maloney has been at his scintillating best and will need to continue that form for the next month without Nathan Cleary by his side. He will be full of confidence after playing a significant role in the Blues win in Game Two.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Sunday, June 30
Venue: Mt Smart Stadium
Referee: Gerard Sutton, Adam Cassidy
WHO WILL WIN?
While Nathan Cleary has yet to reach his best form in 2019, his loss will still hurt the Panthers. On the other hand, James Maloney has had no issue in stepping up as the lead playmaker when required. The Warriors have been hit and miss this season and while the Panthers are still struggling to score points they’ve learnt the ability to grind out wins and their momentum should carry on into this game.
Panthers by 6