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Nicoll-Klokstad back at fullback for Warriors

Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad
Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad will make his first appearance for the NZ Warriors in 2024. PHOTO: NRL

While first-choice fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad is back for his first game of the season, the NZ Warriors will be missing Dylan Walker, Kurt Capewell and Luke Metcalf.

The trio have been ruled out for the Warriors' Round 5 NRL away match against the South Sydney Rabbitohs at Sydney's Accor Stadium on Saturday (kick-off 5pm NZ Time).

A hamstring injury kept Kiwi international Nicoll-Klokstad out of the club’s Preseason Challenge match against the Dolphins on February 24 and then the opening four rounds of the NRL season.

The 28-year-old comes back into the No 1 jersey to move within three games of his 100th NRL appearance, while Roger Tuivasa-Sheck returns to the centres for his 200th milestone career game, his 116th outing for the Warriors.

Nicoll-Klokstad has not played since his man of the match performance in the Kiwis’ record 30-0 win over the Kangaroos in the Pacific Championships final in Hamilton on November 4, a day when the fullback made 277 metres from 30 runs (101 post-contact metres) with two line break assists, a try assist, six tackles breaks and four offloads.

Luke Metcalf
NZ Warriors No 6 Luke Metcalf will miss months after fracturing his right tibia. PHOTO: NRL

While the Warriors welcome back Nicoll-Klokstad, Walker, Capewell and Metcalf are all out.

Metcalf is a long-term casualty after breaking the tibia in his right leg while being tackled by Knights second rower Tyson Frizell in the ninth minute of the Warriors' 20-12 win over the Newcastle Knights.

The 25-year-old half has undergone surgery and will not return until late in the season.

Walker was named for the last two matches against Canberra and Newcastle but was a late withdrawal both times due to an ankle complaint. He has not been selected this week,with Jazz Tevaga, his replacement against the Raiders and Knights, this week named on the interchange in jersey No 17.

Capewell played the full 80 minutes on Sunday but later reported headaches and has been stood down as the club follows concussion protocols.

With Metcalf unavailable, Warriors head coach Andrew Webster has called in Te Maire Martin to start in the halves alongside Shaun Johnson, reprising the partnership he used for the opening four rounds last season, before Martin missed the following round with concussion and was then sidelined for a lengthy part of the season after breaking his fibula in the sixth round match against Newcastle.

Martin, who has played for the club’s New South Wales Cup side three times in the opening four rounds this season, was influential in Sunday’s 26-12 win over Newcastle with three line break assists, two try assists, 26 runs for 144 metres and 24 tackles without a miss.

Chanel Harris-Tavita has again been listed on the extended bench. He was brought onto the interchange on Sunday, coming on to play the last 71 minutes of the match replacing Metcalf and scoring a try as well as creating one for Marcelo Montoya.

Coming into the second row for Capewell is Marata Niukore, who made his return from a foot injury with a 25-minute stint from the bench on Sunday.

Hooker Freddy Lussick and prop Tom Ale return to the interchange after being omitted for the Newcastle game, Ale playing for the New South Wales Cup side while Lussick was 18th man for the NRL team.

NZ WARRIORS: Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Rocco Berry, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Marcelo Montoya, Te Maire Martin, Shaun Johnson, Addin Fonua-Blake, Wayde Egan, Mitchell Barnett, Jackson Ford, Marata Niukore, Tohu Harris. Interchange: Freddy Lussick, Tom Ale, Bunty Afoa, Jazz Tevaga. Reserves: Adam Pompey, Jacob Laban, Chanel Harris-Tavita, Edward Kosi, Ali Leiataua


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