NRL: Johnson and Mateo back for Raiders clash

By David Skipwith

After missing the Warriors' last game against Manly, Shaun Johnson will be back in action this weekend. Photo / Getty Images
After missing the Warriors' last game against Manly, Shaun Johnson will be back in action this weekend. Photo / Getty Images

Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson and back-rower Feleti Mateo have both been named in coach Andrew McFadden's side to play the Canberra Raiders on Sunday.

Johnson (groin) and Mateo (calf) were both late scratchings from the line-up for last Sunday's 22-12 loss to competition pacesetters Manly but have recovered well and are expected to take the field on Sunday.

"We're very hopeful they'll be right to play but we have Tui and Sione there as cover if needed," McFadden said.

Johnson comes back into the halves with Chad Townsend while Mateo is on a six-man bench with Ben Matulino, Sam Rapira, Thomas Leuluai, Tuimoala Lolohea and Sione Lousi.
Ex-Raiders McFadden and assistant coach Adam Mogg will be in familiar territory when they head back to Canberra this week.

McFadden had his second victory as Warriors head coach against his old club at Eden Park in May - a 54-12 win - but this will be his first in charge in Canberra (he was assistant coach for last year's 20-16 loss there).

The Warriors have tasted away wins against the Raiders only twice in their history, with just one win in 11 attempts at GIO Stadium (a 31-24 success in 1997 when former All Black Marc Ellis kicked five goals and field goal), while the other victory was a 22-10 triumph in a one-off appearance at Manuka Oval in 2001.

"I'm not concerned about our record there," said McFadden. "This game is about focusing on ourselves and controlling what we can control. It's obviously a hugely important match for us in the context of the season."

The Warriors go into the match sitting ninth on the NRL ladder after a back-to-back defeats to the Broncos and Sea Eagles. They're one of six teams on 22 points headed by North Queensland in seventh spot with Brisbane eighth.

The 15th-placed Raiders have an impressive record at home overall with a winning percentage of better than 67 per cent, but their 34-18 loss to South Sydney last night was their sixth defeat in eight matches at the venue this year.

Sunday's match will be forward Ben Matulino's 147th NRL appearance, leaving him in line to play his 150th game when the Warriors host the Sydney Roosters on August 24.

The contest to be the Warriors' top try scorer this season has tightened up with Manu Vatuvei and Konrad Hurrell both on 10, Sam Tomkins and Simon Mannering on nine and Johnson on eight.

Warriors side to play the Canberra Raiders:

1. Sam Tomkins
2. Ngani Laumape
3. Konrad Hurrell
4. Dane Nielsen
5. Manu Vatuvei
6. Chad Townsend
7. Shaun Johnson
8. Jacob Lillyman
9. Nathan Friend
10. Suaia Matagi
11. Ben Henry
12. Simon Mannering (c)
13. Sebastine Ikahihifo
Interchange:
14. Feleti Mateo
15. Ben Matulino
16. Sam Rapira
17. Thomas Leuluai
18. Tuimoala Lolohea
20. Sione Lousi

- NZ Herald

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