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New Zealand Warriors
New Zealand Warriors
The New Zealand Warriors make their long-awaited homecoming this afternoon as they take on the Wests Tigers at Mount Smart Stadium, with a big crowd expected to welcome them nearly three years since their last game in Auckland. Join The Roar for live scores and commentary from 2pm AEST.
Warriors’ interim coach Stacey Jones will be hoping the home crowd can inspire his troops because they’ve now lost seven games in a row since victory over Canberra at Redcliffe in round 8.
But it’s not like the Tigers are doing much better.
They sit 14th on the ladder, level on points with the 15th-placed Warriors, and have lost six of their last seven games, with Brett Kimmorley, like Jones, coaching the team in an interim capacity.
The Warriors have named Euan Aitken to start in the centres with Adam Pompey dropping out of the 17 and have recalled Eliesa Katoa to replace Dunamis Lui on the bench.
The Tigers welcome back former Origin centre James Roberts and promising young prop Stefano Utoikamanu. 20-year-old prop Fonua Pole, a product of Victorian junior league, has been named to make his NRL debut from the bench.
The last time these two teams met was in Round 3 when the Warriors beat the Tigers 16-12 at Campbelltown.
Fun and random stat of the day: the Warriors may be second last on the ladder but they’re second in the NRL for charge downs, behind only Parramatta. Could that make a difference today?
Both teams are close to full strength and there’s hardly any difference between their respective form lines. The Warriors are a slightly better attacking team and the Tigers are better defenders.
There’s little cause to recommend either side but, barring a draw, somebody will prevail. I’ll tip a raucous crowd in Auckland to will the Warriors home, with a charge down leading to a decisive try for Bunty Afoa in his 100th NRL game.
1. Reece Walsh 2. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 3. Jesse Arthars 4. Euan Aitken 5. Marcelo Montoya 6. Ronald Volkman 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Addin Fonua-Blake 9. Wayde Egan 10. Jazz Tevaga 11. Jack Murchie 12. Tohu Harris (c) 13. Josh Curran. 14. Chanel Harris-Tavita 15. Bunty Afoa 16. Eliesa Katoa 17. Bayley Sironen 18. Adam Pompey 20. Aaron Pene 21. Rocco Berry 22. Freddy Lussick 23. Daejarn Asi
1. Daine Laurie 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Starford To’a 4. James Roberts 5. Ken Maumalo 6. Luke Brooks 7. Jackson Hastings 8. James Tamou 9. Fa’amanu Brown 10. Zane Musgrove 11. Luke Garner 12. Kelma Tuilagi 13. Joe Ofahengaue 14. Stefano Utoikamanu 15. Adam Doueihi 16. Alex Seyfarth 17. Fonua Pole.