Warriors coach Andrew McFadden has dropped blockbusting centre Konrad Hurrell for the NRL clash against the Gold Coast Titans on Anzac Day at Mount Smart Stadium.
Hurrell has been replaced by David Fusitu’a, while backrower Raymond Faitala-Mariner is in line for his debut and veteran Sam Rapira will make his first appearance of the season from the interchange bench.
Hurrell made an impact with explosive runs and a try in the Warriors’ 28-24 loss to the Cowboys in Townsville last Saturday, and McFadden said the centre has been working hard on limited preparation after a knee injury.
“I feel it’s affected his performance a little. Although he’s been doing some good things, there’s some things he needs to work on. He’s aware of that,” the coach said.
“And also, David Fusitu’a, his form in our (NSW) Cup side has been too good to ignore, so he’s well and truly earned his spot there.”
McFadden said the selection of 20-year-old Fusitu’a, and 21-year-old Faitala-Mariner and Rapira on the bench, reflected intense competition within the wider squad.
“Ray has been impressive all season for us in the NSW Cup and fully deserves his debut.
“Sam has been great working his way back into form from injury in the NSW Cup side and David was outstanding in his first game of the year last weekend.”
Coming back from a hamstring injury, Rapira is his 10th and final NRL season before he moves to the English Super League next year.
Rapira and Faitala-Mariner come in for Albert Vete and Dominique Peyroux, although Peyroux stays in the NRL squad as 18th man.
Warriors: Tuimoala Lolohea, Jonathan Wright, David Fusitu’a, Solomone Kata, Manu Vatuvei, Chad Townsend, Shaun Johnson, Jacob Lillyman, Thomas Leuluai, Ben Matulino, Bodene Thompson, Ryan Hoffman, Simon Mannering (captain). Interchange: Nathan Friend, Raymond Faitala-Mariner, Sam Lisone, Sam Rapira, Dominique Peyroux.