Matulino back, Lolohea to fullback
Ben Matulino returns from suspension and Chad Townsend has been recalled for his last game for the Vodafone Warriors when they face Canterbury-Bankstown in Sunday’s 26th-round NRL match at ANZ Stadium (6.30pm kick-off local time; 8.30pm NZT).
Matulino has been sidelined since August 8 after being banned for three games for a shoulder charge on St George Illawarra’s Gareth Widdop in Wellington.
Townsend has missed the Vodafone Warriors’ last two matches but returns for his 41st and last game for the club before returning to Sydney to rejoin his former club Cronulla. He has been named to partner rookie Mason Lino, who will wear the No 7 jersey in his third NRL game.
While Townsend is set to make his final appearance, fullback Sam Tomkins seems destined to miss what would have been his 38th outing before heading back to England. Tomkins’ left knee injury flared up again early in the second half of last Sunday’s loss to Wests Tigers; assistant coach Andrew Webster said Tomkins would be given every chance to prove his fitness but he hasn’t been named in the line-up to face the Bulldogs with Tuimoala Lolohea being switched to fullback where he started the season in the opening match against Newcastle.
Matulino’s return results in Sebastine Ikahihifo going to the bench for what will also be his last NRL appearance for the Vodafone Warriors. While Matulino is back from a ban Charlie Gubb is now on the suspended list, ruled out for four games after taking early guilty pleas on two shoulder charge offences in the clash against Wests Tigers.
Returning on the interchange is second rower Raymond Faitala-Mariner after a strong display for the club’s New South Wales Cup side last Saturday. He replaces Sione Lousi.
Hooker Nathan Friend will line up for the 86th and final time for the Vodafone Warriors while departing Dominique Peyroux and Siliva Havili have also been named but could still feature for the club in week two of the NSW Cup finals.
Just three players – Friend, centre Solomone Kata and captain Simon Mannering – are set to finish the campaign featuring in all 24 games this season.
Webster revealed today that Mannering had played against the Tigers despite being seriously ill.
“Simon wasn’t right at all and it was suggested he shouldn’t play,” he said.
“He didn’t look good in the warm-ups or in the sheds but he said he would play. It’s typical of him that he went out without fuss and defended the way he did for about 60 minutes despite being in poor shape. You just can’t say enough about him.”
Mannering was replaced after 68 minutes after making 30 tackles and missing just one. He wasn’t well enough to attend the post-match media conference.
The Vodafone Warriors will seek to end a run of seven defeats against a side which could have the lure of a top four spot to play for.
The Bulldogs have been among the Vodafone Warriors’ most demanding opponents. In 32 games since 1995 they have won 12 and drawn two while the Bulldogs have won 18. In 14 away encounters the win-loss record favours Canterbury-Bankstown 8-4 with two draws.
The Bulldogs have won the last four matches between the two sides with the Vodafone Warriors’ last success a 36-12 win at Mount Smart Stadium while they won 30-24 at ANZ Stadium in 2010.
1 TUIMOALA LOLOHEA
2 MATT ALLWOOD
3 DOMINIQUE PEYROUX
4 SOLOMONE KATA
5 JONATHAN WRIGHT
6 CHAD TOWNSEND
7 MASON LINO
8 ALBERT VETE
9 NATHAN FRIEND
10 BEN MATULINO
11 BODENE THOMPSON
12 RYAN HOFFMAN
13 SIMON MANNERING (c)
14 KONRAD HURRELL
15 RAYMOND FAITALA-MARINER
16 SEBASTINE IKAHIHIFO
17 SAM LISONE
18 SILIVA HAVILI
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