A much-changed Warriors side will see Peta Hiku lead the team for the first time when he returns from a long injury-lay-off to face the West Tigers on Friday night.
Named at standoff, the versatile 28-year-old Hiku will be making his first appearance – and just his fifth of the season – since picking up a serious shoulder injury in the 20-14 win over St George Illawarra on April 18.
Of the first four matches he played this season, the Warriors won three beating Gold Coast, Canberra and the Dragons.
Hiku, who’ll be making his 148th career appearance, is teamed in the halves with Sean O’Sullivan. He’ll be the Warriors’ third captain in as many games; departing Roger Tuivasa-Sheck led the side against Penrith – before leaving the field early with concussion – while prop Addin Fonua-Blake took over against the Rabbitohs last week.
Through a combination of unavailability, injury and suspension, head coach Nathan Brown has had no option but to make a raft of changes to the line-up.
Tuivasa-Sheck has played his last game for the club after being given permission to return home before the Government completely pauses the Australian travel bubble on Friday and now veteran prop Leeson Ah Mau is also unavailable after being granted a request to be reunited with his family in Auckland.
Tohu Harris (shoulder), Wayde Egan (shoulder) and Rocco Berry (hamstring) are joined in the casualty ward by Addin Fonua-Blake (hand), Chad Townsend (shoulder), Jack Murchie (concussion) while impressive new signing Matt Lodge is suspended.
The heavy toll of unavailable players results in a completely new starting front row.
Jamayne Taunoa-Brown, who last played in the round 19 loss to Gold Coast, returns at prop after two loan appearances for the Dragons with Ben Murdoch-Masila the other starting prop alongside rookie hooker Taniela Otukolo, who’ll start for the first time.
Warriors team to face West Tigers:
1. Reece Walsh
2. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak
3. Adam Pompey
4. Euan Aitken
5. Marcelo Montoya
6. Peta Hiku
7. Sean O'Sullivan
8. Jamayne Taunoa-Brown
9. Taniela Otukolo
10. Ben Murdoch-Masila
11. Eliesa Katoa
12. Bayley Sironen
13. Josh Curran
14. Kodi Nikorima
15. Bunty Afoa
16. Kane Evans
17. Jazz Tevaga
18. Viliami Vailea
20. Edward Kosi
21. Pride Petterson-Robati