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Vodafone Warriors captain Steve Price needs a clearance tomorrow before he?s able to make his return from injury in Saturday night?s NRL clash against Canberra at Ericsson Stadium.
The home match was targeted two weeks ago for an earlier-than-expected comeback after the 31-year-old prop had surgery on his right knee early last month.
Without the clearance head coach Tony Kemp was unable to name him today in the line-up to face the Raiders.
?We?ll wait to see what happens when Steve sees his specialist (Barry Tietjens) tomorrow,? he said.
?If everything is right then we?ll bring him straight into the side. Obviously it would be a real boost for us to have Steve back at this time of the season.?
Price damaged his knee in the 21-4 win against Wests Tigers at Ericsson Stadium on May 29. It was his 10th appearance for his new club. Should the Australian and Queensland front rower be given the go-ahead, he?ll be in line to play in the Vodafone Warriors? last six regular season matches instead of one as originally scheduled.
Kemp said everyone appreciates how vital Saturday night?s third-to-last home game of the season is.
?We spoke about the importance of it right after the win over the Roosters last weekend,? he said.
?That was a really good win but it won?t count for anything if we don?t repeat the effort against Canberra. This is another must-win match for us.?
In beating the Roosters, the Vodafone Warriors had 10 players who gained more than 100 metres, fullback Brent Webb the best with 195 metres while props Iafeta Paleaaesina (175m) and Ruben Wiki (150m) weren?t far behind. Overall the team gained a season-high 1697 metres compared to the Roosters? 1280 metres.
?It was definitely one of our best efforts of the year, especially the way the players handled the situation when we were 22-8 down,? said Kemp.
?We showed desperation but retained our composure to win from there. Now we have to do it all again against the Raiders.?
The match will have added significance for two Vodafone Warriors as they edge closer to personal milestones. Loose forward Monty Betham will play his 97th first-grade match and interchange forward Karl Temata will make his 49th appearance.
Last weekend, Stacey Jones became the 10th player to top 100 points for the year, taking his tally to 105 with four goals from five attempts. Wiki?s third try for his new club ? and the 63rd of his career ? took him past 250 points.
The Vodafone Warriors remain 12th on 18 points going into the match, the Raiders ninth on 22 points. The Warriors, ranking eighth on attack and fifth on defence, have a points differential of plus 27 while the Raiders? reading is minus 47.
Paul Simpkins has been appointed referee just two weeks after he controlled the Vodafone Warriors-Bulldogs match at Ericsson Stadium.
VODAFONE WARRIORS V CANBERRA Ericsson Stadium, Auckland 7.30pm, Saturday, July 23
VODAFONE WARRIORS TEAM
1 BRENT WEBB 2 FRANCIS MELI 3 CLINTON TOOPI 4 JEROME ROPATI 5 TODD BYRNE 6 NATHAN FIEN 7 STACEY JONES (C) 8 RUBEN WIKI 9 LANCE HOHAIA 10 IAFETA PALEAAESINA 11 SIONE FAUMUINA 12 WAIRANGI KOOPU 13 MONTY BETHAM 14 RICHARD VILLASANTI 15 KARL TEMATA 16 AWEN GUTTENBEIL 17 SIMON MANNERING
Referee: Paul Simpkins