Stephen Kearney makes spine switch for Rabbitohs clash

Author
Radio Sport, NZ Herald,
Section
Audio,
Publish Date
Tuesday, 27 August 2019, 7:02PM
Some players have been dropped to the bench . (Photo / Getty)

Warriors coach Stephen Kearney has shuffled the deck slightly for the clash with the Rabbitohs on Friday.

Kearney has resisted making any major changes, but has dropped Chanel Harris-Tavita and Lachlan Burr back to the bench.

Harris-Tavita had been preferred ahead of Kodi Nikorima for the last two matches, after some strong displays, but Kearney has opted for the experience of Nikorima in the penultimate game of the season.

Burr started in place of Agnatius Paasi against the Sharks, but the two reverse roles this week.

A new-look Paasi will make his 100th career appearance in the Warriors' last home game of the season (8.00pm kick-off).

The 27-year-old front rower had gone four years without a haircut but will sport a sleek look after having it all cut off on Tuesday in support of the Shave for a Cure charity.

The cause is deeply personal for 'Iggy', whose aunt Ponisitia (Tia) Paasi, a former Black Ferns rugby union international, died from cancer last year.

The shave coincides with Paasi achieving his significant milestone.

After making his NRL debut with the Warriors in 2014 — his sole appearance that season — he went on the play 54 times for the Gold Coast Titans from 2015-2017 before returning to Mt Smart last year.

The only other change sees middle forward Ligi Sao come in for centre Blake Ayshford among the four interchange players.

Ayshford is on the extended bench with Bunty Afoa, Adam Keighran and Adam Pompey.

Centre Peta Hiku and prop Leeson Ah Mau will be making their 23rd appearances of the year, the only players involved in every game so far.

With his try against the Sharks last week, David Fusitu'a lifted his career tally to 60 in 95 games, fifth equal with Francis Meli (110 games) on the club's all-time list behind Manu Vatuvei (152 in 226 games), Stacey Jones (77 in 261) and Shaun Johnson (63 in 162) and Simon Mannering (63 in 301).

In 34 previous encounters, the Warriors have a 19-15 edge in wins over South Sydney, but they have only beaten the Sydney team just once since winning in Auckland in 2012.

That victory was in the opening round in Perth last year.

Warriors v South Sydney Rabbitohs
8.00pm, Friday, August 30, 2019
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
Referees: Grant Atkins and David Munro

Warriors
1 Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (C)
2 David Fusitu'a
3 Peta Hiku
4 Patrick Herbert
5 Ken Maumalo
6 Kodi Nikorima
7 Blake Green
8 Agnatius Paasi
9 Issac Luke
10 Leeson Ah Mau
11 Adam Blair
12 Isaiah Papali'i
13 Jazz Tevaga
Interchange:
14 Lachlan Burr
15 Sam Lisone
16 Ligi Sao
17 Chanel Harris-Tavita
18 Bunty Afoa
20 Blake Ayshford
21 Adam Keighran
22 Adam Pompey
(Four to be omitted)