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Injured trio set to return for NZ Warriors

The NZ Warriors have named their strongest side of the season so far, with frontline players Dylan Walker, Marata Niukore and Wayde Egan all set to return from injury.

The veteran trio were named on Tuesday in the Warriors lineup for Sunday’s Round 4 NRL clash against the Newcastle Knights at Go Media Stadium Mt Smart (kick-off 6.05pm).

Utility Walker is back on the interchange after missing the 18-10 win over Canberra with an ankle complaint, while hooker Egan is set for his second appearance of the season after being forced out of the last two matches with an elbow injury picked up in Round 1.

Niukore’s only outing this year was the second Preseason Challenge match against the Redcliffe Dolphins on February 24 in which he suffered a minor foot fracture, keeping him out of the first three rounds.

He has been brought onto the bench alongside Walker, hooker Freddy Lussick and prop Bunty Afoa as the Warriors seek their second win of the campaign.

With Egan, Niukore and Walker included in the playing 17, middle forwards Tom Ale and Jazz Tevaga plus utility Chanel Harris-Tavita move onto the extended bench.

The return of the experienced trio means fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad is the only first-choice player yet to come back into the lineup. It is anticipated he will be fit for his first game of the season when the Warriors face South Sydney at Accor Stadium on April 6.

There are two other changes to the starting combination brought about by fullback Taine Tuaupiki’s unavailability due to concussion.

In his absence, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck is named to start at fullback, with the Adam Pompey coming into the centres for his first game of the season after playing every minute of the club’s 27 games last year.

After his match-sealing try against the Raiders, Tuivasa-Sheck is named in the No 1 jersey for the first time since the Warriors’ excruciating 19-18 golden point loss to St George Illawarra at Central Coast Stadium on July 2, 2021.

Sunday’s match will move him within one game of his 200th career appearance, set to be achieved in the Round 5 clash against the Rabbitohs.

The Warriors go into Sunday’s contest not only bolstered by their three reinforcements returning but also by their first victory of the season in a grafting 18-10 success against the Raiders last Friday night.

The Knights’ confidence has also been boosted after holding out the Melbourne Storm 14-12 for their first win of the year on Sunday.

This will be the 50th meeting between the two sides with the record dead even at 24 wins each, plus a draw. At home, the Warriors have a 16-11 record, with an 18-18 draw in 2000.

NZ WARRIORS: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Rocco Berry, Adam Pompey, Marcelo Montoya, Luke Metcalf, Shaun Johnson, Addin Fonua-Blake, Wayde Egan, Mitchell Barnett, Jackson Ford, Kurt Capewell, Tohu Harris. Interchange: Freddy Lussick, Marata Niukore, Bunty Afoa, Dylan Walker. Reserves: Tom Ale, Jazz Tevaga, Chanel Harris-Tavita, Te Maire Martin, Ali Leiataua


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