Rookie Warriors half Chanel Harris-Tavita will return to first grade this weekend with a different challenge awaiting him.
With the team's dummy half stocks being depleted in the last two weeks, the 20-year-old is poised to spend time in the middle of the action should starting No 9 Issac Luke need a breather against the Brisbane Broncos on Saturday night.
Harris-Tavita's recall to the squad comes after hooker Karl Lawton suffered a shoulder injury early in last weekend's win over the Newcastle Knights. His injury came just a week after fellow dummy half Nathaniel Roache had his season ended by an ACL injury.
"He might get a run there. We'll just see ... we'll see how it all lines up on Saturday," Warriors coach Stephen Kearney said of Harris-Tavita's recall.
Harris-Tavita played five games in the halves for the Warriors earlier in the season, starting in each, but was dropped back to reserve grade after the club signed former Broncos utility Kodi Nikorima. While Nikorima has spent time at dummy half intermittently throughout his career, when asked if he would shift from the halves at some point this weekend, Kearney said: "Probably not."
Luke is yet to put in an 80-minute performance this season. In 11 appearances, the 32-year-old is averaging 50 minutes per game, and just a shade below that mark through his nine starts.
"Bully (Luke) has a great deal of experience. He probably hasn't had the most consistent years that he would have liked, so it's good to have him back and he gets a real opportunity now with Karl and Nathaniel not in contention this week.
"He adds a great deal of experience and I'm looking forward to him being at his best."
With Nikorima expected to spend the full 80 minutes at five-eighth, Harris-Tavita will be the likely option to deputise at dummy half. Kearney has elected to run dual hookers in his squad for the majority of the 2019 season, allowing for rotation in what is one of the most physically demanding positions in the game.
It's a change from last year's approach when Luke put an 80-minute shift on 15 occasions, with utility forward Jazz Tevaga on hand to take over if needed. However, Tevaga starts at lock this weekend and is unlikely to shift away from his role in the middle.
"[Jazz] brings a different dynamic. He's not your typical middle forward – he probably gives away 10 or 15 kilos straight away," Kearney said of Tevaga. "What he does give you is good leg speed, he's a tough rooster who works really hard and defends. His game is different to what you'd normally get in the middle of the field."
While Tevaga was nursing an ankle injury, Kearney expected him to line up in the No 13 jersey as expected on Saturday night.
While Harris-Tavita should see some time on the field in Brisbane, it could be a cameo return to first grade with Lawton expected to be fit sooner rather than later. While there was no clear picture on how long Lawton would be out for, Kearney suggested it would be a short-term absence.
"I think that'll become a lot clearer over the next couple of days, but I'm hopeful he'll be back next week."
Warriors v Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane - Saturday July 13, 7.30pm
Warriors: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, David Fusitu'a, Peta Hiku, Gerard Beale, Ken Maumalo, Kodi Nikorima, Blake Green, Agnastius Paasi, Issac Luke, Leeson Ah Mau, Adam Blair, Isaiah Papali'i, Jazz Tevaga. Interchange: Lachlan Burr, Sam Lisone, Bunty Afoa, Chanel Harris-Tavita, Hayze Perham, Blake Ayshford, Ligi Sao, Leivaha Pulu (four to be omitted).
Broncos: Anthony Milford, Corey Oates, Kotoni Staggs, Herbie Farnworth, Xavier Coates, Darius Boyd, Jake Turpin, Matthew Lodge, Andrew McCullough, Payne Haas, Alex Glenn, Tevita Pangai Jr, Thomas Flegler. Interchange: James Segeyaro, Joe Ofahengaue, David Fifita, Partick Carrigan, Keenan Palasia, Rhys Kennedy, Cory Paix, Jamayne Issako, Izaia Perese (five to be omitted).