David Skipwith is the Herald's rugby league reporter

NRL: Kieran Foran named on extended Warriors bench against Dragons

Star signing Kieran Foran is in line to make his long-awaited Warriors debut in Sunday's vital round four NRL match against St George Illawarra at UOW Jubilee Oval clash.

The Kiwis five-eighth has been named among the extended reserves in coach Stephen Kearney's 21-man squad, but a decision on his involvement will be made later this week, as he works to prove his fitness after a slower than expected recovery from shoulder surgery.

Rookie playmaker Ata Hingano is listed to make his sixth outing in the No6 jersey, while a decision on Foran's role remains uncertain.

The former Manly and Parramatta playmaker has not played in almost a year, after the injury forced him from the field to end his season during the Eels' round-12 win over Newcastle last May.

His potential return follows a turbulent past 12 months for the 26-year-old, who survived an attempted suicide by prescription pill overdose and was granted a release from a multi-million dollar Parramatta contract last July, after just nine appearances in blue and gold.

"He's ticking along OK," Kearney told Radio Sport's D'Arcy Waldegrave.

"He's got a protocol that we're working through with him this week, through to the end of the week, and if he ticks the boxes that we need him to tick, there'll be a chance."

Foran has gradually increased his involvement in contact training and last week came through a thorough inspection unscathed, after running and defending against the Warriors NRL side last week.

However, Kearney warned Foran's reputation as a direct runner would not provide a lone solution to the side's struggles and often lateral attack and reiterated the need for all members of the side to play their part.

"Kieran will help that, I'm sure, but Kieran isn't the sole answer to this," he said.

"It's a matter of making sure that we're all playing our part, it's a collective energy. If the front-rowers aren't doing their job, then the backs can't do theirs effectively."

The Warriors will also welcome the return of captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, who has been named in the No1 jersey, after withdrawing from the side that lost 24-12 to Canterbury Bulldogs in Dunedin last week, due to a concussion suffered in the round-two loss to Melbourne.

Tuivasa-Sheck's planned return and the absence of Manu Vatuvei, who re-injured his troublesome left knee and left the field 13 minutes into the second-half against the Bulldogs, means last week's fill-in fullback Tui Lolohea and Ken Maumalo shift back into the right and left wing positions they occupied over the first two rounds.

The rest of the backline and forward pack remain unchanged, with 19-year-old Erin Clark retaining his spot on the bench for a third straight week, alongside forwards Charlie Gubb, Sam Lisone and Bunty Afoa. Fellow forwards James Gavet, Ligi Sao, centre Blake Ayshford and Foran round out the extended reserves.

The 15th-placed Warriors head across the Tasman, looking to bounce back from consecutive losses and rediscover the form that saw them overcome Newcastle in their season-opener.

They face a tough challenge against a physical Dragons outfit that occupy third spot, after grinding out a 16-10 upset victory over reigning premiers Cronulla on Sunday, their second win of the season.

The match will also see Warriors vice-captain Simon Mannering claim the club record for most NRL appearances after last week drawling level with club great and new assistant coach Stacey Jones' mark of 261 games.

Warriors v St George Illawarra
UOW Jubilee Oval
8.30pm, Sunday

Warriors: 1 Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (c), 2 Tuimoala Lolohea, 3 David Fusitu'a, 4 Solomone Kata, 5 Ken Maumalo, 6 Mafoa'aeata Hingano, 7 Shaun Johnson, 8 Albert Vete, 9 Issac Luke, 10 Jacob Lillyman, 11 Bodene Thompson, 12 Ryan Hoffman, 13 Simon Mannering.
Interchange: 14 Erin Clark, 15 Charlie Gubb, 16 Sam Lisone, 17 Bunty Afoa, 18 James Gavet, 20 Ligi Sao, 21 Blake Ayshford, 22 Kieran Foran

- NZ Herald

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