The NSW Blues have been named for the first game of the 2017 #Origin series.
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Vice-captain Monty Betham makes his 100th NRL appearance but hooker Lance Hohaia will be missing from the Vodafone Warriors? line-up for Saturday night?s NRL match against the Storm at Melbourne?s Olympic Park. While the 27-year-old Betham will become the 10th player to reach a century of first-grade matches for the Vodafone Warriors, it was confirmed today Hohaia (22) will be sidelined for four weeks with knee trouble. Head coach Tony Kemp is thrilled Betham will at last achieve a key personal milestone after so many injury setbacks but he is also disappointed for Hohaia. ?Since making his NRL debut in 1999, Monty?s had two knee reconstructions, a broken ankle and a broken arm but it?s a credit to him that he?s come back each time,? said Kemp. ?Playing 100 matches in this competition is a significant achievement but few have deserved it more than Monty. He has worked really hard for this and it?s great for him that he?ll finally reach the mark on Saturday night. ?At the same time, it?s disappointing that Lance has been hit by injury. He has come on really well at hooker for us, especially since we?ve been using him off the bench. ?He had a knock on his knee against Parramatta which we were hoping wasn?t too serious but there?s cartilage trouble and he?ll be out for a month.? Centre Jerome Ropati will also be missing against the Storm after playing all 21 matches this year. ?He needs to rest a leg injury but he should be right for selection for our last home match of the season against Newcastle,? said Kemp. While losing Hohaia and Ropati, the Vodafone Warriors welcome back wingers Francis Meli and 19-year-old Manu Vatuvei. Meli returns on the right wing from a one-week break; Vatuvei, one of five players named on the bench, is in line to make his first appearance in more than a month after being troubled by injury and a viral infection. With Ropati out, Kemp has moved the versatile Sione Faumuina to right centre while 18-year-old Simon Mannering, a starter on the right wing last weekend, has been shifted to left centre in place of Clinton Toopi who goes to the bench. ?We?ve been desperate to win for weeks but it now comes down to what is an absolute must-win match in Melbourne,? said Kemp. ?We?ve looked at the side closely after our last two matches against Penrith and Parramatta and believe Simon?s enthusiasm will benefit us on the left side while Clinton will give us impact from the bench.?
Faumuina?s move to the centres means Louis Anderson will start at loose forward in an otherwise unchanged forward pack. Also back in the squad is interchange forward Karl Temata who is poised to play his 50th NRL match since making his debut in 2002. Back rower Wairangi Koopu, one of the NRL?s leading try-scoring forwards this season with eight, is now the only player with a chance of playing in each of the Vodafone Warriors? matches this year. He?ll make his 22nd appearance on Saturday night. The Storm are eighth on 24 points going into the weekend?s round while the Vodafone Warriors are 11th on 20 points. When the two teams met at Ericsson Stadium on June 12, the Vodafone Warriors won 24-16.
1 BRENT WEBB 2 FRANCIS MELI 3 SIONE FAUMUINA 4 SIMON MANNERING 5 TODD BYRNE 6 NATHAN FIEN 7 STACEY JONES 8 RUBEN WIKI 9 MONTY BETHAM 10 STEVE PRICE (C) 11 AWEN GUTTENBEIL 12 WAIRANGI KOOPU 13 LOUIS ANDERSON 14 RICHARD VILLASANTI 15 KARL TEMATA 16 CLINTONTOOPI 17 MANU VATUVEI 24 IAFETA PALEAAESINA