Michael Burgess is a sports writer for the Herald on Sunday.

NRL: Lillyman only change for Warriors

Jacob Lillyman returns to the Warriors this lineup this week. Photo / Getty Images
Jacob Lillyman returns to the Warriors this lineup this week. Photo / Getty Images

Queensland Origin prop Jacob Lillyman has been named as the only line-up change for the Warriors' 16th-round NRL clash against the top-of-the-table Cronulla Sharks in Sydney on Saturday.

It means that Thomas Leuluai and Albert Vete have been listed in the 17, despite both suffering serious head knocks in the 12-10 win over the Roosters.

Their fitness will be assessed across the week, as with halfback Shaun Johnson who continues to struggle with a quadricep injury.

Lillyman's inclusion in the line-up sees fellow senior prop Ben Matulino named on the bench with Albert Vete the other starting front rower, as he has been in the three consecutive wins over Brisbane, Newcastle and the Sydney Roosters in the last three rounds.

Despite his early head knock, the 23-year-old Vete led the Warriors forwards with an impressive 138 metres from 14 runs in his 33 minutes on the field against the Roosters.
The Sharks sit on top of the table with 26 points after losing just twice this season, the last defeat against Manly in round three.

Since then they have had 10 straight victories with their most recent a 13-10 success against the Cowboys on June 13.

They're coming off a bye and have four of their players in the New South Wales side - captain Paul Gallen, James Maloney and Andrew Fifita plus 18th man Jack Bird.

Since their first bye, the Warriors have totalled 98 points while conceding only 42 - an average of only 14 a game - in their last three outings.

The Warriors have won 16 of their previous 35 encounters with the Sharks. Six of those wins have come in 16 contests at Cronulla's home ground, the most recent in May last year when halfback Shaun Johnson turned on a magic show in a 20-16 victory.

Warriors loose forward Simon Mannering plays his 249th NRL game this week leaving him on track for his milestone 250th at home against the Gold Coast Titans on Saturday week. He will become only the second player to reach the 250-game mark for the club behind the legendary Stacey Jones (261 appearances).

Warriors v Cronulla Sharks
Southern Cross Group Stadium, Cronulla
5.30pm, Saturday, June 25

Warriors:
1. Tuimoala Lolohea, 2. David Fusitu'a, 3. Blake Ayshford, 4. Solomone Kata, 5. Ken Maumalo, 6. Thomas Leuluai, 7. Shaun Johnson, 8. Jacob Lillyman, 9. Issac Luke, 10. Albert Vete, 11. Bodene Thompson, 12. Ryan Hoffman (C), 13. Simon Mannering
Interchange: 14. Nathaniel Roache, 15. Sam Lisone, 16. Ben Matulino, 17. Charlie Gubb, 18. Ata Hingano, 20. Toafofoa Sipley

- NZ Herald

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