Utility Pita Godinet has been named on the bench in a rearranged Vodafone Warriors squad for today’s 24th-round NRL clash against Penrith at Mount Smart Stadium (2.00pm kick-off local time; match day sponsor: DEWALT).
Godinet joins Sione Lousi, Micheal Luck and Steve Rapira on the interchange for what will be his sixth NRL appearance, just his second this season.
Ben Henry moves from the second row into the centres replacing Konrad Hurrell. Hurrell was originally named in the side but was taken out of the line-up to turn out for the Auckland Vulcans against North Sydney in the New South Wales Cup yesterday.
With Henry in the centres, Elijah Taylor switches to the second row and Sebastine Ikahihifo starts at loose forward. Russell Packer will start in the front row with Lousi moving to the bench.
Manu Vatuvei captains the side for the fourth time in what will be another personal milestone match for him. Last Saturday night he became the first Vodafone Warrior to reach the 100-try mark in the NRL, doing so in 149 games; his strike rate is among the best in the game today with 71 of his tries coming in his last 91 games. His try against the Cowboys came in the dying seconds on a night when he made 119 metres from 10 runs, including six tackle breaks.
Vatuvei is one of only 10 players still involved in the NRL this season who have scored 100 tries. He has joined a list of just over 50 players to achieve the feat in the competition’s 104-year history. This weekend Vatuvei (26) will make his 150th NRL appearance, just the seventh player in the club’s history to reach the mark with Stacey Jones (261), Logan Swann (195), Lance Hohaia (185), Awen Guttenbeil (170), Mannering (164) and Wairangi Koopu (159) ahead of him. Luck is also on target to play his 150th match for the Vodafone Warriors in the last game of the season against Canberra, his final outing before retiring.
Luck made his return from another lay-off last Saturday night. He played 41 minutes against the Cowboys, making 20 tackles and missing only two.
Back in the team this week is Taylor, who missed the game in Townsville after returning home following the sudden death of his father last Friday.
Packer plays his 99th game while second rower Feleti Mateo brings up his 50th game (he hasn’t missed a game since joining the club). Winger Bill Tupou made his 50th appearance last weekend.
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