Sam Tomkins, Chad Townsend, John Palavi and Jayson Bukuya will all make their Warriors debuts in the team’s opening NRL match against the Eels.
Blockbusting centre Konrad Hurrell is a surprise omission from the Warriors team for their NRL season opener against Parramatta.
Coach Matt Elliott said on Tuesday Carlos Tuimavave had earned selection for the Parramatta Stadium clash ahead of Hurrell on pre-season form, including his impressive effort in the big last-start win over Brisbane in Dunedin.
“Konrad played really hard against the Broncos but Carlos was impressive in the Nines and then in Dunedin putting on two tries and getting one himself,” Elliott said.
It’s not the only selection surprise from Elliott.
Former Junior Warriors captain John Palavi makes his NRL debut at lock, relegating the experienced Feleti Mateo to the interchange bench.
“If you had told me last year that he (Palavi) was going to be our starting lock for this game I would probably have disagreed with you but he has performed right through the pre-season,” Elliott said.
“His influence on players around him and what he did during the trial process was impressive.”
England fullback Sam Tomkins, five-eighth Chad Townsend and second rower Jayson Bukuya also make their club debuts in the starting 13.
The five-man bench Elliott has selected is one of the bulkiest the club has had, with Mateo joined by props Jacob Lillyman and Suaia Matagi, second rower Sione Lousi and only one back, Jerome Ropati.
Warriors: Sam Tomkins, Glen Fisiiahi, Dane Nielsen, Carlos Tuimavave, Manu Vatuvei, Chad Townsend, Shaun Johnson, Sam Rapira, Nathan Friend, Ben Matulino, Jayson Bukuya, Simon Mannering (captain), John Palavi. Interchange: Jacob Lillyman, Suaia Matagi, Sione Lousi, Feleti Mateo, Jerome Ropati.