The Beast is back. Manu Vatuvei is set to make his first appearance for the Warriors this season, after being recalled to the starting XIII for Friday's clash with the Bulldogs in Dunedin.

Vatuvei replaces Tui Lolohea, who is shifted to a extended interchange bench.

Kieran Foran was, as expected, not included in the 21 man squad. His shoulder is still not ready for contact, though coach Stephen Kearney said there was "a chance" he could play next week.

Captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck has been named at fullback, despite leaving the field with concussion in the first half of the 26-10 loss to the Storm.


"He's going along well," said Kearney. "It's a bit of a process the head protocol. He has another one of the tests tomorrow (Wednesday) so we will see how he pulls up."

The other changes see Jacob Lillyman and Bodene Thompson brought into the run on side, after they started the first two rounds from the bench, with Charlie Gubb and Bunty Afoa shifted to the interchange positions.

The move to bring Vatuvei in is not a surprise. The 31-year-old was always going to feature sooner or later and has been an ever present over a decade at Mt Smart, across several different head coaches. Though he can be exposed defensively - especially when teams make him turn - the 225 game veteran offers forward momentum that can be game changing.

"He'll bring a strong carry," said Kearney. "He has had a couple of game in NSW Cup. He didn't play any of the trials so the idea was to give him some game time...I'm happy with that."

Lolohea picked up a slight injury from the Storm game last week and didn't take a part in full contact at training on Tuesday. But he has also struggled defensively in the first two rounds - Ken Maumalo has shaded him in overall performance - hence Kearney's decision. Lolohea is the obvious cover for Tuivasa-Sheck, so may yet still feature if the fullback is scratched.

The presence of Vatuvei and Maumalo means the Warriors will field one of the biggest wing combinations seen in the NRL, though the same duo were badly exposed in the home defeat to the Rabbitohs last year.

Thompson's inclusion means the Warriors' regular starting back row combination since 2015 - Simon Mannering, Thompson and Ryan Hoffman - is reunited for the first time this year.

The 30-year-old Mannering will play his 261st NRL game on Friday, drawing level with Stacey Jones' record mark.

The Bulldogs' 'home' game is the first NRL competition match to be played in Dunedin. The Warriors played preseason trials there in 2013 and 2014 against Brisbane, when Kearney was on the Broncos' staff.

The Bulldogs, coming off season-opening losses to Melbourne and the Roosters , are among the Warriors' most challenging opponents.

The ledger is 19-13 in Canterbury-Bankstown's favour with two draws while the away record favours the Bulldogs 9-5 with two draws. The Warriors' 24-20 win in Wellington last year is their only success in the last six encounters since 2011.

Warriors v Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
8.00pm, Friday, March 17


1 Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (c)
2 Ken Maumalo
3 David Fusitu'a
4 Solomone Kata
5 Manu Vatuvei
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

14 Erin Clark
15 Sam Lisone
16 Charlie Gubb
17 Bunty Afoa
18 Blake Ayshford
20 James Gavet
21 Tuimoala Lolohea
22 Mason Lino