15 Feb 2017

Experienced trio back for Warriors

5:33 am on 15 February 2017

Experienced forwards Simon Mannering, Jacob Lillyman and Issac Luke have all been named for the Warriors' second and final NRL pre-season game against the Gold Coast Titans in Palmerston North on Sunday.

Simon Mannering, centre, celebrates a try with the team

Simon Mannering, centre, celebrates a try with the team Photo: Photosport

The three players weren't used in either the Auckland Nines or last Saturday's first preseason hit-out against the Melbourne Storm on the Sunshine Coast.

Boasting almost 700 NRL appearances between them they will provide a significant boost to the starting pack this weekend.

The 286-game Ryan Hoffman was the only vastly experienced forward fielded against the Storm; he was among six players taken off at halftime when the Vodafone Warriors led 18-6 before going on to lose 18-30.

Lillyman and Luke start alongside prop Sam Lisone, who played in the Nines and also represented the club in the NRL All Stars in Newcastle last Friday night. Hoffman and Bunty Afoa are again the starting second rowers with Mannering at loose forward.

The only change to the backline used against the Storm is at standoff where Ata Hingano is paired with halfback Shaun Johnson. Captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck has his second run after a successful return in the first half last week.

"It's a real boost for us to be able to have those experienced lads in the forwards," said Warriors head coach Stephen Kearney.

"We know the Titans will bring plenty in what is a vital hit-out for us ahead of the season.

"There were some really good signs against Melbourne but we need to show further improvement this Sunday."

The last time the Warriors played a match in Manawatu was a trial against Central Districts at Palmerston North Showgrounds on the original Auckland Warriors' national tour before their debut in the competition in 1995.