New centres pairing revealedRichard Becht & photosport.nz
Tue 30 Mar 2021, 02:59 PM
New signing Marcelo Montoya will be the Vodafone Warriors’ fourth different centre in four weeks when he makes his club debut in Sunday’s fourth-round NRL clash against the Sydney Roosters at the Sydney Cricket Ground (6.15pm kick-off local time; 8.15pm NZT).
The 25-year-old Fiji Bati international becomes Vodafone Warrior #256, coming into the side for veteran Peta Hiku, who is out for several weeks after picking up a knee injury early in the second half of the heart-stopping 34-31 win against the Canberra Raiders on Saturday.
Hiku’s injury leaves head coach Nathan Brown without both of his first-choice centres after losing offseason acquisition Euan Aitken to an ankle injury after the opening-round win over the Titans.
Adam Pompey (22) came in as his replacement, immediately impressing on his NRL return in the last-minute loss to Newcastle on March 19 and stepping up another level against Canberra.
He has scored in both games – including the match-winner against the Raiders – while running 125 metres against the Knights and 145 against Canberra.
Montoya has linked up with the Vodafone Warriors this season after 54 matches for the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs since 2017.
While he played on the wing in all but one of his 34 games in his first two years at first-grade level, all but four of his last 20 outings have been in the centres.
He played on the wing for an injured David Fusitua in the club’s trial against the Titans. In the opening round of the Intrust Super Cup, Montoya was on the wing for feeder club Redcliffe, scoring a try and making 125 metres in a 30-28 win over the Mackay Cutters.
His inclusion for Hiku is the only change to the 17-man squad used in the epic encounter with Canberra.
With Hiku added to the casualty list, Brown is now missing four of his first choice starting players after just three rounds. As well as Hiku and Aitken (sidelined for up to 10 weeks with an ankle injury), halfback Chanel Harris-Tavita is recovering from a foot operation which will keep him out for up to 12 weeks. Also out of action is prop Jamayne Taunoa-Brown, who serves the second match of a three-game ban this week for a crusher tackle offence against Newcastle.
The back-up players have all made significant contributions.
Pompey has matched his efforts with the ball with solid defensive displays while Sean O’Sullivan and Jack Murchie fitted in well against the Raiders.
In his club debut replacing Harris-Tavita, O’Sullivan had 56 touches, 39 passes, ran the ball 14 times for 111 metres and made four tackle breaks plus 19 tackles with just one miss. He also shared the kicking duties nicely with Kodi Nikorima, making 211 metres from eight kicks.
Murchie matched up against his old club with a valuable cameo in 30 minutes off the bench including 60 metres from six carries and 15 tackles without a miss.
Sunday’s match sees left winger Ken Maumalo lift his career tally to 99 games leaving him set for his 100th against Manly on April 9 while Roger Tuivasa-Sheck edges his club total to 98 games.
The Vodafone Warriors have a record of 22 wins, a draw and 19 loss in 42 games against the Roosters but have lost the last three. Before that they won four on end.
VODAFONE WARRIORS v SYDNEY ROOSTERS6.15pm, Sunday, April 4, 2021
Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney
Referee: Ben Cummins
1 ROGER TUIVASA-SHECK (c)
2 DAVID Fusitua
3 ADAM POMPEY
4 MARCELO MONTOYA
5 KEN MAUMALO
6 KODI NIKORIMA
7 SEAN O’SULLIVAN
8 ADDIN FONUA-BLAKE
9 WAYDE EGAN
10 BUNTY AFOA
11 ELIESA KATOA
12 BAYLEY SIRONEN
13 TOHU HARRIS
14 JAZZ TEVAGA
15 BEN MURDOCH-MASILA
16 LEESON AH MAU
17 JACK MURCHIE
18 TOM ALE
20 PAUL TURNER
21 KANE EVANS
22 ROCCO BERRY
HEAD COACH | NATHAN BROWN
Vodafone Warriors head coach Nathan Brown is already without four of his first-choice starting players heading into a tough battle against the Sydney Roosters.