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team to face Panthers
Ruben Wiki?s return and Nathan Fien?s move to standoff are the two major features in the Vodafone Warriors side to face Penrith in their NRL clash at Ericsson Stadium on Sunday. After missing four matches through suspension, prop Wiki (32) went head to head with his front row team-mate and captain Steve Price in last Friday night?s Anzac Test in Brisbane. Now Wiki and Price are set to be reunited for the Vodafone Warriors for the first time since the 24-12 win against Brisbane on March 19. ?It was pleasing to see Ruben get through a lot of work in the test (including 30 tackles),? said Vodafone Warriors head coach Tony Kemp. ?He?s bursting to get back into it and he couldn?t be coming back at a more important time for us.? Fien (25), who?ll play his 98th first grade game on Sunday, started each of the club?s first six matches at hooker this year but was moved to standoff at a critical time in the Vodafone Warriors? thrilling 30-26 win over Newcastle. ?Nathan has done an outstanding job for us at hooker but he gave us a lot of direction when we moved him to standoff in Newcastle so we?re going to start him there on Sunday,? said Kemp. That means Kiwi test hooker Louis Anderson will wear the No 9 jersey against the Panthers while Jerome Ropati, a double try-scorer in his Kiwi test debut against the Kangaroos, again starts at fullback with fellow international Brent Webb still out of contention with a back injury. With Sione Faumuina due to miss two matches with a knee injury, Kemp has been forced to reshuffle his back-row combination. Kiwi second rower Wairangi Koopu moves to loose forward for his 99th NRL appearance while Karl Temata, a front row starter against the Knights, partners Awen Guttenbeil in the second row. Props Iafeta Paleaaesina and Richard Villasanti will again come off the bench against Penrith, as will Epalahame Lauaki who made a significant combination as an impact player in the dramatic win over Newcastle. After starring for Australia in Friday night?s test, Price was today named in an initial 22-man Queensland squad for this year?s first State of Origin clash in Brisbane on May 25. He finished the test on the bench with a hamstring injury but early indications are he will be fit to line up against Penrith. The Vodafone Warriors go into the match lying seventh on the NRL ladder after collecting two points from their bye last weekend. While they have three wins and three losses, the Panthers (10th) had their fourth defeat of the year on Saturday night when beaten 36-22 by the Cowboys.
VODAFONE WARRIORS TEAM
1 JEROME ROPATI 2 FRANCIS MELI 3 TODD BYRNE 4 CLINTON TOOPI 5 MANU VATUVEI 6 NATHAN FIEN 7 STACEY JONES 8 RUBEN WIKI 9 LOUIS ANDERSON 10 STEVE PRICE (C) 11 AWEN GUTTENBEIL 12 KARL TEMATA 13 WAIRANGI KOOPU 14 EPALAHAME LAUAKI 15 IAFETA PALEAAESINA 16 RICHARD VILLASANTI 17 LANCE HOHAIA