NRL: Manu Vatuvei to return for Warriors

Manu Vatuvei and Ken Maumalo will be teamed up on the wings for the first time since last August when the Warriors face Manly. Photo / Getty Images.
Manu Vatuvei and Ken Maumalo will be teamed up on the wings for the first time since last August when the Warriors face Manly. Photo / Getty Images.

Manu Vatuvei will return to the Warriors side for this Saturday's match against Manly, after more than a month out of action.

Vatuvei, who is one touchdown away from reaching 150 NRL tries, comes back into the team at the expense of Tui Lolohea who drops back to the interchange bench.

It means that Vatuvei and Ken Maumalo will be teamed up on the wings for the first time since last August for the match in Perth (3.30pm kick-off local time; 7.30pm NZT).

The 30-year-old Vatuvei has been sidelined since a hamstring injury forced him off the field early in the second half of the 50-14 win over Newcastle on June 11.

Maumalo has filled Vatuvei's regular spot on the left wing in the Warriors' last three matches, against the Sydney Roosters, Cronulla and Gold Coast.

The reunion of the two giant wings comes more than 13 months after they were first used together, ironically when the Warriors were last in Perth facing the Rabbitohs in June last year.

Aside from Lolohea's shift, there are two changes to the starting pack used in the 27-18 win over Gold Coast.

Captain Ryan Hoffman is back after a virus prevented him playing in Simon Mannering's 250th NRL game while Albert Vete (hamstring injury) has been ruled out.

His absence sees Ben Matulino and Jacob Lillyman named as the starting props, Lillyman set to back up after lining up for Queensland in the final State of Origin clash against New South Wales in Sydney tomorrow night.

Charlie Gubb, who started at loose forward against the Titans, switches back to a five-man bench alongside Lolohea, Sam Lisone, Bunty Afoa and James Gavet.

After distinguishing himself on debut against Gold Coast, Afoa backed up with 80 minutes for the club's Intrust Super Premiership side last weekend, making 92 metres from nine runs as well as 43 tackles in a 12-8 win over Illawarra.

Gavet, in line for his seventh NRL outing of the year, has been impressive for the reserve grade side over the past month with 160 metres and 34 tackles against North Sydney, 174 metres and 35 tackles against Wests Tigers and 147 metres and 30 tackles against Illawarra last Saturday.

The Warriors take an 8-8 win-loss record into Saturday's contest. With eight rounds to go in the regular season they're seventh on the table on 20 points while the Sea Eagles are 13th on 14 points.

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