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Luke back in starting line-up against Broncos

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Issac Luke comes into the starting line to replace injured hooker Karl Lawton for the Vodafone Warriors’ 17th-round NRL clash against the Brisbane Broncos at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday (5.30pm kick-off local time; 7.30 NZT).

Lawton left the field with a shoulder complaint after just 14 minutes of Saturday night’s clash against Newcastle, Luke playing the last 66 minutes as the Vodafone Warriors went on to win 24-20.

Lawton’s injury is still being assessed while fellow hooker Nate Roache is side-lined for the season after suffering an ACL injury in the golden point loss to Penrith on June 30.

In his 265th career appearance last Saturday, Luke kicked four goals from five attempts and made 54 metres from seven runs as well as 24 tackles.

With Lawton and Roache both unavailable, Jazz Tevaga, who’ll play his 49th match, will provide a dummy half option. He is again named at loose forward following another busy outing on Saturday night which saw him make 114 metres from 11 runs plus 39 tackles in his 56 minutes on the field.

The rest of the starting combination to face Brisbane is the same as the one used in Newcastle, Gerard Beale again in the centres with Patrick Herbert still unavailable with a hamstring injury.

With Luke moved off the bench the only change in personnel is on the interchange where 2019 rookie Chanel Harris-Tavita has been named to wear jersey No 17 for what will be his sixth NRL appearance since playing five times earlier in the season (the last on May 5).

Vodafone Warriors wing Ken Maumalo goes into the match sitting joint top of the NRL’s try-scoring chart with 12 touchdowns in 15 appearances. He ought to have the outright lead with 13 tries after being denied his first career hat-trick by a bunker decision which was yesterday officially confirmed as being incorrect.

Maumalo finished the match with 240 metres from 22 runs including 82 post-contact metres. He leads all players for the most-contact metres with 929, well ahead of second-ranked Knights prop David Klemmer on 789.

Maumalo and captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck lead all players for most runs and most metres gained so far. Maumalo has 290 runs, Tuivasa-Sheck 279 while Maumalo has made 2829 metres in 15 games (an average of 189 metres a game) and Tuivasa-Sheck 2645 in 14 matches (also an average of 189 metres).

The Vodafone Warriors and Brisbane are both on 14 points heading into the 43rd match between the two clubs. The Vodafone Warriors sit 11th with a points for and against differential of minus 35 while the Broncos are 14th with a reading of minus 64.

Brisbane has a 24-18 edge in games between the two clubs while the Vodafone Warriors have won six of 13 away clashes against the Broncos including a 26-6 victory when they last met at Suncorp Stadium on July 15 last year. Brisbane prevailed 8-2 when the teams clashed at Mount Smart Stadium on May 25.

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