NRL: Locke back in Warriors squad

Kevin Locke in action for the Warriors earlier in the season. Photo / Getty Images
Kevin Locke in action for the Warriors earlier in the season. Photo / Getty Images

Three players, including fullback Kevin Locke, have been brought into a 19-man squad named for the Warriors' seventh-round NRL match against South Sydney at Mt Smart Stadium on Sunday.

Locke, who turned 23 last week, has been recalled to start in the No 1 jersey after a leg injury kept him out of the back-to-back away games against the Sydney Roosters and Canberra.

Also chosen on an extended interchange bench is centre Konrad Hurrell. A groin injury ruled him out of contention for the encounter with the Roosters but he returned to the field when he lined up for the Auckland Vulcans in their New South Wales Cup match against the Mounties in Auckland last Saturday.

Junior Warriors captain John Palavi (19), who was in camp in Australia last week, is on a six-man bench as well after being the NRL side's 18th man against the Roosters.

Locke apart, the starting combination named by Warriors head coach Brian McClennan is the same as the one originally listed to run out against the Raiders on Sunday with Ben Matulino again down as a starting front rower and Feleti Mateo in the second row; both were subsequently used from the bench on game day with Russell Packer and Lewis Brown starting instead.

While Locke and Hurrell return after brief injury breaks, Micheal Luck (wrist), Jacob Lillyman (biceps), Steve Rapira (ankle), Alehana Mara (knee) and Sebastine Ikahihifo (hand) are still in the rehab group.

The game against South Sydney is the first of three at Mt Smart Stadium in the next four rounds followed by Saturday night games in the ninth round against Brisbane on May 5 and the 10th round against the Roosters on May 12. The one away game during that period is against Melbourne at AMII Park on Anzac Day (9pm kick-off NZ time).

"After having a week in Australia and putting together two really disappointing performances, it's great to be home," said Warriors head coach Brian McClennan.

"We're not where we wanted to be or expected to be at this stage of the season but while we didn't get any fruit out of our time away together, being in camp was constructive.

"We find ourselves in a place the club has been before and we all know we're going to have to be really determined and work even harder for each other to get our season going. It's going to especially tough against a South Sydney side which has been going well."

The Warriors' 2-4 win-loss record is identical to last year's start when the opening losses to Parramatta, Wests Tigers and St George Illawarra were followed by wins against Cronulla and the Sydney Roosters before a fourth loss to Manly.

The South Sydney Rabbitohs have hit form coming into their visit to Auckland. After dropping their opening games to the Roosters and the Storm, they beat Penrith and had a third loss to Brisbane but have since put together a golden point win over Wests Tigers and a victory over Canterbury-Bankstown 20-10 on Friday night. Outstanding forward Sam Burgess is on their long-term injury list and former Kiwi captain Roy Asotasi joined him with a pectoral injury on Friday night.

With eight points from a try and two conversions, standoff James Maloney took his tally for the Warriors to 438 in 57 appearances, just two short of passing Ivan Cleary (439), who's second on the club's all-time list behind Stacey Jones (674).

Warriors team to play South Sydney at Mt Smart Stadium at 2pm on Sunday is: Kevin Locke, Bill Tupou, Ben Henry, Jerome Ropati, Manu Vatuvei, James Maloney, Shaun Johnson, Sione Lousi, Nathan Friend, Ben Matulino, Feleti Mateo, Simon Mannering (c), Elijah Taylor. Interchange: Russell Packer, Ukuma Ta'ai, Konrad Hurrell, Sam Rapira, Lewis Brown, John Palavi.

- APNZ

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