Warriors utility Thomas Leuluai has recovered from a groin problem and will make his first NRL appearance of the year against the Wests Tigers in Wellington on Saturday.
Leuluai’s inclusion on the bench for the injured Feleti Mateo is the only change from the side that held out North Queensland 20-16 in Townsville for the Warriors’ first win of the season.
The 28-year-old Kiwi played every minute of the Auckland-based club’s 24 matches in 2013, but got injured during New Zealand’s World Cup campaign.
It was at Westpac Stadium that he made his NRL debut against Canterbury in 2003 as a 17-year-old.
Leuluai’s versatility gives coach Matthew Elliott options as to how to use him.
“He was a really important part of our spine last year in the halves,” Elliott said.
“That’s one option and obviously he can cover at hooker as well. He’s a fairly handy bench player.”
Mateo’s knee complaint ends a run of 79 straight matches since he joined the Warriors in 2011, and 110 in a row going back to Parramatta’s grand final year of 2009.
Second rower Simon Mannering will skipper the Warriors for the 92nd time, taking him past the club record set by Steve Price.
Former Cronulla and Melbourne centre Dane Nielsen will also bring up a personal milestone with his 100th NRL appearance.
Warriors: Sam Tomkins, Glen Fisiiahi, Dane Nielsen, Jerome Ropati, Manu Vatuvei, Chad Townsend, Shaun Johnson, Sam Rapira, Nathan Friend, Ben Matulino, Jayson Bukuya, Simon Mannering (captain), Sione Lousi. Interchange: Jacob Lillyman, Suaia Matagi, Konrad Hurrell, Thomas Leuluai.