Leading NYC players rested against Cowboys
Saturday 11 August 2012 12:16 PM
Vodafone Junior Warriors coach John Ackland has opted to rest two of his key players for tonight’s 23rd-round NYC clash against North Queensland at Dairy Farmers Stadium in Townsville (7.15pm kick-off local time).
Ackland chose to give captain John Palavi a break for the clash against Manly two weeks ago after Palavi had played almost every minute of the first 18 matches of the season.
And now prop Ligi Sao and back rower David Bhana have been given a breather tonight.
Sao is the only player to have appeared in each of the team’s 20 matches up to and including last Sunday’s heavy defeat by Cronulla. He ranks sixth among all NYC players for the most runs (294) and also sixth for most metres gained (2728), playing an average 66 minutes a game.
Bhana, who has missed only one game, has been easily the busiest defender in the competition, making 749 tackles (almost 100 more than his nearest challenger) or an average of close to 40 tackles a match. He has also played big minutes, close to 74 a game.
In the team initially released this week, prop Siulongoua Fotofili wasn’t listed but it has since been confirmed he will be playing tonight. Omar Slaimankhel hasn’t been named either.
While Sao, Bhana and Slaimankhel will be missing, two 2011 regulars are returning.
Jordan Meads, the first-choice halfback last year, is down to start at standoff, filling the void created by Carlos Tuimavave’s promotion to the club’s NRL side. Meads has made several appearances for the Auckland Vulcans in the New South Wales Cup recently.
And utility Sio Siua Taukeiaho, who has been out for most of the season with an ankle injury, makes his comeback tonight.
With Slaimankhel missing, Toka ‘Tonka Truck’ Likiliki has been named on the wing once more while others coming back into the squad named earlier in the week include Michael Sio (replacing Bhana at loose forward), prop James Taylor and winger Viliami Lolohea.
The final composition of the team will be confirmed an hour before kick-off.
Despite last week’s 10-40 loss to the Sharks, the Vodafone Junior Warriors still hold a one-point lead in the minor premiership race going into their match against the Cowboys. The same two sides met in last year’s NYC grand final but, while the Vodafone Junior Warriors have maintained their record in the competition, the Cowboys have fallen away this year to lie 13th on the ladder.
VODAFONE JUNIOR WARRIORS v NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS
Dairy Farmers Stadium, Townsville
5.15pm, Saturday, August 11
VODAFONE JUNIOR WARRIORS
1 PETA HIKU
2 DAVID FUSITUA
3 NGANI LAUMAPE
4 NGATAUA HUKATAI
5 TOKA LIKILIKI
6 JORDAN MEADS
7 MASON LINO
8 ALBERT VETE
9 SILIVA HAVILI
10 NATHANIEL PETERU
11 RAYMOND FAITALA-MARINER
12 JOHN PALAVI (c)
13 MICHAEL SIO
14 TRENT BISHOP
15 JAMES TAYLOR
16 SIO SIUA TAUKEIAHO
17 VILIAMI LOLOHEA
18 ADAM TUIMAVAVE-GERRARD
COACH: JOHN ACKLAND