NRL: Johnson and Hurrell ruled out of Sharks clash

Tuimoala Lolohea in action against the Raiders. Photo / Getty Images
Tuimoala Lolohea in action against the Raiders. Photo / Getty Images

Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson and centre Konrad Hurrell have both been ruled out of Sunday's clash with the Cronulla Sharks at Mt Smart Stadium.

Johnson will miss his third game in a row with a niggling groin injury while Hurrell is sidelined with a hamstring strain suffered in last weekend's big win over the Canberra Raiders.

In his absence, Ngani Laumape will move in from the right wing to start in the centres, while 19-year-old Tuimoala Lolohea has been promoted from his bench role in his first two NRL appearances to fill the open wing position.

"It hasn't been the ideal week after picking up a few bumps and bruises against the Raiders," said Warriors coach Andrew McFadden.

"Konrad has a slight hamstring strain which we don't think is too bad and we'll give Shaun another week. We're hoping they'll both be available the following week.

"It means Tui will start for us on the wing. While he's a little inexperienced in the position, we saw what he can do last weekend so we're really happy to give him this opportunity. There's no doubting his ability."

As he did against Manly and Canberra, veteran Thomas Leuluai will start at halfback, following a strong performance against the Raiders, in which he produced three try assists and three line break assists.

The forward pack is the same as the one that opened up against the Raiders with Sione Lousi again in the second row.

The struggling Sharks, currently bottom on the NRL ladder in 16th spot, have won the last five matches between the two sides since the Warriors won in Taupo back in 2011.

The last time the Warriors triumphed at Mt Smart Stadium was a 30-16 victory in 2010 when Simon Mannering debuted as the club's new captain.

The Warriors are back inside the top eight going into this clash, after occupying seventh for more than 24 hours, before the Storm's Monday night win over Wests Tigers pushed them back to eighth.

With their record points haul in Canberra (54), the Warriors are the NRL's leading attacking side with 473 points including 86 tries.

With his sixth career hat-trick last Sunday, winger Manu Vatuvei now ranks in the top 20 of all-time try-scorers with 131 tries in 189 matches including 17 in his last 20 matches.

He leads the club's try scorers with 13 in 18 games this season while Hurrell has 11, fullback Sam Tomkins 10, Mannering nine and Johnson eight.

Versatile forward Ben Matulino will again come off the bench for his 148th NRL appearance on Sunday leaving him in line to play his 150th game when the Warriors host the Sydney Roosters on August 24.

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

- NZ Herald

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