The Warriors will be without forwards Tohu Harris and Bunty Afoa for at least the next month as the pair recover from injuries suffered in last Friday's loss to Cronulla.

Harris has a torn meniscus and will miss the next four weeks while Afoa dislocated his elbow and is facing a six-week stint on the sidelines.

Those injuries, plus the return of first choice players Adam Blair and David Fusitu'a, have seen coach Stephen Kearney make several changes to his side to face the Penrith Panthers in western Sydney on Friday night.

Blair returns from his suspension while Fusitu'a has been named after recovering from an ankle injury he picked up in the lead-in to the Warriors' win over the North Queensland Cowboys nearly three weeks ago. The try-scoring winger was named to play against the Sharks but was ruled out on the day of the game.


Also coming back into the side is Kiwi test winger Ken Maumalo, who sat out the Sharks game after returning late from the Denver test match.

Peta Hiku moves to the centres, replacing Anthony Gelling, while Gerard Beale shifts to the bench.

The club's forwards depth will be tested with their best edge player (Harris) and go-forward merchant (Afoa) absent for the tough run of games against the Panthers, Broncos and Storm over the coming weeks.

Simon Mannering moves from lock to the second row while Ligi Sao comes onto the bench as a replacement for Afoa. Sao has played well for the club's ISP side and gained 158 metres from 15 runs while making 32 tackles in 60 minutes last week against competition leaders Mounties.

Joseph Vuna, Karl Lawton, Sam Lisone and Mason Lino have been included on an extended bench for the Warriors.

The fourth-placed Panthers will be under-strength for the round 17 clash at Penrith Stadium - key halves Nathan Cleary and James Maloney as well as bench utility Tyrone Peachey are on NSW State of Origin duty while prop Reagan Campbell-Gillard is still out injured.

At full strength the Panthers look to be one of the competition favourites but the Warriors have managed to get them at a good time.

After sitting comfortably inside the NRL top four for almost all of the season, the Warriors dropped to fifth with their loss to the Sharks. They had been on a two-game winning streak before that, however.


The forwards have to take it upon themselves to lay a solid platform for an inexperienced halves duo to create scoring chances. Easier said than done, especially with Campbell-Gillard sidelined with a broken jaw. That means experienced leader Trent Merrin needs to show he's still one of the top forwards in the game.

The big factor should be the Warriors' classy spine of Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Blake Green, Shaun Johnson and Issac Luke - it's hard to see the Panthers containing all four.