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Multiple changes for Vodafone Warriors

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Karl Lawton replaces injured Peta Hiku in the centres and Sydney Roosters loan player Poasa Faamausili has been brought straight onto the bench for the Vodafone Warriors’ fourth-round NRL encounter with the Penrith Panthers at Campbelltown Stadium in Sydney on Friday (6.00pm kick-off local time; 8.00pm NZT).

Lawton was thrust into the left centre’s role 25 minutes into last Saturday’s clash against the St George Illawarra Dragons after veteran Hiku was forced off with a rib injury.

In his 55-minute shift in the position Lawton made 95 metres from 10 runs and helped to shore up the left edge defence with 18 tackles and no misses as the Vodafone Warriors opened the resumed NRL season with an 18-0 shutout of the Dragons.

With David Fusitu’a not yet ready to return to play after his late arrival in Australia, Lawton has been called on to start in the centres for just the second time in his career. The first was his debut for the Gold Coast Titans against the Vodafone Warriors in Auckland in 2016.

The 24-year-old Auckland-born Glenore Bears junior Faamausili, who has joined his new teammates on loan this week, has been thrust into the fray for what will be his 15th NRL appearance. He’s set to become Vodafone Warrior #245 following ex-Canberra Raiders back rower Jack Murchie who had his first outing for his new club last week.

Faamausili comes in for regular front rower Agnatius Paasi, who is serving a one-match suspension for a dangerous contact charge involving St George Illawarra’s Corey Norman.

Filling the vacancy created by Lawton’s move to the starting line-up is ex-Sydney Roosters back rower Josh Curran. The last of his two matches for the Vodafone Warriors was in last year’s season-ending 24-20 win over Canberra; a leg injury ruled him out of contention for this season’s opening two matches against Newcastle and the Raiders.

Vodafone Warriors head coach Stephen Kearney has retained the same starting forward packed used against the Dragons with Adam Blair and Jamayne Taunoa-Brown the starting props, hooker Wayde Egan backing up his 80-minute effort last week and a back row of Tohu Harris, Eliesa Katoa and Isaiah Papali’i.

Egan aside, the forwards all topped 100 metres, Harris the best of them with 219 metres while Katoa made 181, Taunoa-Brown 133, Blair 122 and Papali’i 121. Coming off the bench rookie King Vuniyayawa made 111 metres in his 29 minutes on the field.

VODAFONE WARRIORS v PENRITH PANTHERS

6.00pm, Friday, June 5, 2020

Campbelltown Stadium, Sydney

Referee: Matt Cecchin

VODAFONE WARRIORS

1 ROGER TUIVASA-SHECK (c)

2 PATRICK HERBERT

3 KARL LAWTON

4 GERARD BEALE

5 KEN MAUMALO

6 KODI NIKORIMA

7 BLAKE GREEN

8 JAMAYNE TAUNOA-BROWN

9 WAYDE EGAN

10 ADAM BLAIR

11 ELIESA KATOA

12 TOHU HARRIS

13 ISAIAH PAPALI’I

Interchange:

14 JACK MURCHIE

15 POASA FAAMAUSILI

16 KING VUNIYAYAWA 17 JOSH CURRAN

18 CHANEL HARRIS-TAVITA

20 HAYZE PERHAM

21 ADAM POMPEY

22 LEIVAHA PULU

HEAD COACH | STEPHEN KEARNEY

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