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Young play-making trio confirmed for Warriors

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Mason Lino, Ata Hingano and Nathaniel Roache have been confirmed as the Vodafone Warriors’ rookie starting hooker-halves combination for the Vodafone Warriors’ 23rd-round NRL clash at Mount Smart Stadium today (4.00pm kick-off; match day sponsor: Flava).

Lino (23), Roache (21) and Hingano (20) have played alongside each other at NYC and Intrust Super Premiership level but have never been in the same NRL side together.

They have just 12 NRL starting appearances between them.

As well as Lino, Roache and Hingano, the Vodafone Warriors will have 2017 rookies Isaiah Papali’i (18) and Chris Satae (24) on the bench. Papali’i will be making only his third first-grade appearance and Satae his second after debuting against the North Queensland Cowboys last month.

The other two players confirmed on the interchange are hooker Issac Luke and prop Ben Matulino with Sam Lisone again switched to start.

Second rower Ryan Hoffman returns from six weeks on the sideline with a foot injury, having last appeared in the 21-14 home win over Canterbury-Bankstown on June 23.

The 33-year-old gives the side a 301-game injection of experience teaming up in the back row with the seasoned Simon Mannering and second-year NRL player Bunty Afoa.

The Raiders have found form over the last month. After a run of four straight losses they’ve won three of their last four matches to sit on 22 points, four outside the top eight.

They have a 20-17 winning edge in 37 matches between the two clubs but the Vodafone Warriors are 12-7 ahead in home contests including those played at Yarrow Stadium in 2016 (lost 12-38) and Eden Park in 2014 (won 54-12); the 42-point Eden Park victory is the club’s biggest over the Raiders.

In the 17 matches the rivals have played at Mount Smart Stadium, the Vodafone Warriors are 11-6 ahead winning the last two there in 2015 (30-8) and 2013 (50-16). Members of softball’s world champion Black Sox will be special guests at Mount Smart Stadium on Sunday. In attendance will be Nathan Nukunuku (captain), Thomas Enoka (vice-captain), Cole Evans, Brad Rona, Ben Enoka and Campbell Gibson plus some of the management team.

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