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Kodi Nikorima will make his first start for the New Zealand Warriors back at his old stomping ground when they take on the St George Illawarra Dragons in the middle of magic round. Join The Roar for live scores and coverage from 5:30pm (AEST).
All the talk around the Warriors ahead of this game has centred on the arrival of former Brisbane half Kodi Nikorima.
Let go from the struggling Broncos, the New Zealand international will be a new halves partner for Blake Green at the expense of the in-form and incredibly unlucky Chanel Harris-Tavita, who must be scratching his head and wondering what on Earth he did wrong.
Of course, the Warriors form has been patchy, but then, it always is, and that certainly can’t be blamed on the rookie half, given the nature of his performances.
After a stirring performance on Anzac Day in Melbourne, almost resulting in what would have been a famous victory, the Auckland-based club were up to their old tricks last weekend as they threw away a game and two vital competition points with some insipid play as they fell 36-18 to the Knights.
The Warriors also come into this game having won just seven of 28 games against the Dragons since they merged at the end of the last century.
While all the talk is rightly on the Warriors halves situation, the Dragons one doesn’t just fix itself either, with Corey Norman having surgery on a fractured cheekbone during the week.
Needless to say, he will miss the game against the Warriors in Brisbane, and it’s a big blow for the Red V, who are staring down the barrel of three straight losses, which follows four straight wins which kick-started their season.
A lot of the onus will fall on Ben Hunt to guide the team around the park, given he is joined by youngsters Matt Dufty and Jai Field in the crucial positions, but none of that may matter if the Warriors pack fall asleep like they did last week up against the strength of Paul Vaughan and James Graham, among others.
The Dragons have a good historical record over the Warriors, who are simply in the do not tip basket after their recent performances. Even with Norman out, the Red V should hit back from two losses on the bounce.
Dragons by 6.
Be sure to join me here on The Roar for live coverage of this magic round encounter from 5:30pm (AEST) and don’t forget to add a comment in the section below.
Kick-off: 5:30pm (AEST)
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
TV: Live, Fox League 502
Online: Live, Foxtel Now, Foxtel App, Kayo Sports, NRL Digital Pass
Betting: Dragons $1.68, Warriors $2.20
Overall record: Played 28, Dragons 21, Warriors 7
Last meeting: Round 21, 2018 – Dragons 12 defeated by Warriors 18 at WIN Stadium, Wollongong
Last five: Warriors 3, Dragons 2
Referees: Adam Gee, Gavin Badger
New Zealand Warriors
1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, 2. David Fusitua, 3. Peta Hiku, 4. Patrick Herbert, 5. Ken Maumalo, 6. Kodi Nikorima, 7. Blake Green, 8. Agnatius Paasi, 9. Nathaniel Roache, 10. Leeson Ah Mau, 11. Isaiah Papalii, 12. Tohu Harris, 13. Lachlan Burr
Interchange: 14. Jazz Tevaga, 15. Bunty Afoa, 16. Ligi Sao, 17. Karl Lawton, 18. Gerard Beale, 20. Chris Satae, 21. Chanel Harris-Tavita, 23. Issac Luke
St George Illawarra Dragons
1. Matthew Dufty, 2. Jordan Pereira, 3. Zac Lomax, 4. Timoteo Lafai, 5. Mikaele Ravalawa, 6. Jai Field, 7. Ben Hunt, 8. James Graham, 9. Cameron McInnes, 10. Paul Vaughan, 11. Tyson Frizell, 12. Tariq Sims, 13. Blake Lawrie
Interchange: 14. Jeremy Latimore, 15. Euan Aitken, 16. Jacob Host, 17. Luciano Leilua, 18. Mitchell Allgood, 19. Jonus Pearson, 20. Lachlan Timm, 21. Josh Kerr