Mannering back for Warriors

Simon Mannering is set to return from injury to make his first appearance of the NRL season when the Warriors take on the North Queensland Cowboys in the historic Auckland Double Header at Mount Smart Stadium on Saturday.

Warriors veteran Simon Mannering to miss NRL season opener with a shoulder injury Photo: ©

Riding a record season-opening run of four consecutive wins, the Warriors also welcome back halfback Shaun Johnson from injury and front rower Sam Lisone from his one-match suspension.

Not considered was prop James Gavet, side-lined with a hamstring injury which forced him out of last Saturday‘s fourth-round encounter with the Sydney Roosters.

The Warriors, still one of only two unbeaten sides this season, have top billing in the Double Header facing last year‘s beaten grand finalist North Queensland while the in-form Wests Tigers (the ‘home‘ side) meet premiers the Melbourne Storm in the early game.

The Tigers shocked the Storm 10-8 when the teams met in Melbourne in round two.

Mannering (31), who has played a club record 280 games, has been cleared to make his return from a shoulder injury he picked up in the trial against Gold Coast in February and is on the interchange bench.

A groin complaint kept Johnson out of the superb 30-6 win over the Roosters, allowing Mason Lino to experience his first NRL victory in his 10th first-grade appearance. Lino, who was involved in three losses in 2015 and six last year, also celebrated his first NRL try and kicked seven goals from seven attempts for 18 points.

While Johnson is named at halfback, Mannering in on the extended bench in jersey No 16 along with Lisone, Jazz Tevaga, last Saturday‘s NRL debutant Anthony Gelling, Ligi Sao, Lino, Chris Satae and Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad.

In what will be his fifth appearance for the Warriors this week, second rower Leivaha Pulu will reach his 50-game milestone, having played 45 times for Gold Coast before coming home to Auckland this season.

In 37 meetings since 1995, the Cowboys have a narrow 19-18 edge in wins and have won the last four clashes stretching back to 2015 (three of them in Townsville).

The Warriors‘ last success against North Queensland was a 20-16 away win in 2014.

WARRIORS v NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS

Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland

7.30pm, Saturday, April 7, 2018

VODAFONE WARRIORS

1 ROGER TUIVASA-SHECK (c)

2 DAVID FUSITU‘A

3 PETA HIKU

4 SOLOMONE KATA

5 KEN MAUMALO

6 BLAKE GREEN

7 SHAUN JOHNSON

8 BUNTY AFOA

9 ISSAC LUKE

10 AGNATIUS PAASI

11 LEIVAHA PULU

12 TOHU HARRIS

13 ADAM BLAIR

Interchange

14 JAZZ TEVAGA

15 SAM LISONE

16 SIMON MANNERING

17 ANTHONY GELLING

18 LIGI SAO

20 MASON LINO

21 CHRIS SATAE

22 CHARNZE NICOLL-KLOKSTAD