Interim Warriors coach Andrew McFadden has made a number of changes to the side for Sunday's game against the Bulldogs at Eden Park, with Feleti Mateo and Chad Townsend the biggest casualties.
McFadden was yesterday confirmed as coach for the remainder of the season after the sacking of Matt Elliott and immediately put his stamp on the side with his selections for Sunday's game. He said yesterday changes were imminent and he has delivered.
Mateo and Townsend have both been relegated to the reserve grade side, with Sebastine Ikahihifo to start in the back-row and Thomas Leuluai restored to five-eighth.
Ngani Laumape starts on the right wing in place of Glen Fisiiahi, who has a shoulder injury, and hooker Siliva Havili is set to make his Warriors debut off the bench.
Utility Dominique Peyroux will also make his first NRL appearance of the year from the interchange bench and prop Charlie Gubb and back-rower David Bhana are included on an extended bench.
"We had to make one change on the wing with Glen [Fisiiahi] having a shoulder injury,'' McFadden said. "That gives Ngani his chance to come back into the NRL. He has been going well in the New South Wales Cup side.
"It's tough on Chad. He has been doing a good job but Thomas is a key player for us. He's a leader and is ready to come back into the starting lineup.
"Feleti hasn't been going well and knows he needs to play his way back into form with our New South Wales Cup side. That means Seb starts and he deserves it after the work he has done so far this season.''
McFadden welcomed the inclusion of four other NSW Cup regulars on an extended interchange following the side's commanding 44-6 win against the Sharks last week.
"They have all earned their selection on the extended bench,'' he said. ``It's really exciting for Siliva to be making his debut and he thoroughly deserves it. Dom was the players' player of the day against Cronulla and Charlie and David have both been working hard for the New South Wales Cup side. It's good to be able to recognise them.''
The team need to bounce back from their awful 37-6 defeat to the Sharks which sealed Elliott's fate.
"We've dealt with the performance against Cronulla. It was a poor performance,'' McFadden said. "We need to move past that and get our preparation right for the Bulldogs. We've had a difficult week but now it's all about the football and taking on a side that has been going really well.''
The Bulldogs have won their last two matches, edging the premiership-winning Roosters 9-8 last week and hammering Melbourne 40-12 in Perth in a match the influential Cameron Smith missed through injury.
In 30 matches between the two clubs, the Warriors have won 12 and lost 16 with two matches drawn.
Warriors side to play the Bulldogs at Eden Park, Auckland, on Sunday (4pm): Sam Tomkins, Ngani Laumape, Dane Nielsen, Konrad Hurrell, manu Vatuvei, Thomas Leuluai, Shaun Johnson, Sam Rapira, Nathan Friend, Ben Matulino, Jayson Bukuya, Simon Mannering (c), Sebastine Ikahihifo. Interchange (two to be omitted): Jacob Lillyman, Suaia Matagi, Dominique Peyroux, Charlie Gubb, Siliva Havili, David Bhana.