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Experienced players return for Junior Warriors

Two of the squad's most experienced players - Omar Slaimankhel and Carlos Tuimavave - are in line to return from injury when the Vodafone Junior Warriors take on Canberra in Sunday's sixth-round NYC clash in Canberra.
Experienced players return for Junior Warriors
by NRL

Two of the squad's most experienced players - Omar Slaimankhel and Carlos Tuimavave - are in line to return from injury when the Vodafone Junior Warriors take on Canberra in Sunday's sixth-round NYC clash in Canberra.

Tuimavave (41 matches) missed last weekend's 28-28 draw with a groin injury while a knee complaint kept the prolific try-scorer Slaimankhel (40 matches) out of the last two matches.

Also back from injury is winger Viliami Lolohea.

However, while they return the Vodafone Junior Warriors have lost leading prop Donald Tony long-term with a knee injury and winger Ngataua Hukatai (concussion) plus newcomers centre Braxton Stanley and Albert Vete, who have been suspended on contrary conduct charges arising from a fracas in the clash against the Roosters. Stanley will miss two games after taking an early guilty plea on a grade three offence while Vete is out for a game after pleading guilty on a grade two charge. Siulongoua Fotofili was also charged for his involvement in the melee but is free to play after taking an early guilty plea on a grade one offence.

Vodafone Junior Warriors coach John Ackland initially named a 19-man squad for the match with as many as three potential NYC debutants included. They're all included on a six-man bench, among them a player with famous lineage, hooker and Manurewa High School product Jethro Friend (Manurewa Marlins). His father Clayton achieved legendary status as a talented and tough 24-Test Kiwi halfback from 1982-1991.

Also named on the bench is 109kg prop Atu Tupou (Mangere East Hawks) and loose forward Michael Sio (Marist Saints), both St Paul's College products.

With Stanley out, Ackland has shuffled his line-up by moving second rower Sione Feao to the centres and prop Ligi Sao to the second row. The starting props are set to be Siulongoua Fotofili and Toka Likiliki. Hukatai's absence has resulted in Peta Hiku, fullback for the last two matches and the players' player of the day last week, going to the left wing.

The Vodafone Junior Warriors lie fourth on seven points heading into the sixth round, just a point behind three teams on eight points. The Raiders have had three wins and two losses.

This will be only the second time the Vodafone Junior Warriors have played at Canberra Stadium. They lost there 28-42 in 2009 when their line-up included Kevin Locke, Bill Tupou, Elijah Taylor (at standoff), Shaun Johnson, Ben Henry, Alehana Mara and Sebastine Ikahihifo, all in the Vodafone Warriors' 2012 NRL squad.

JUNIOR WARRIORS v CANBERRA RAIDERS
Canberra Stadium, Canberra
11.45am, Sunday, April 08
Referee: Michael Laverty

1 Omar Slaimankhel
2 Viliami Lolohea
3 Sio Siua Taukeiaho
4 Sione Feao
5 Peta Hiku
6 Carlos Tuimavave
7 Jordan Meads
8 Toka Likiliki
9 Siliva Havili
10 Siulongoua Fotofili
11 Ligi Sao
12 John Palavi [c]
13 David Bhana

14 Jethro Friend
15 Chris Ofanoa
16 Atu Tupou
17 Adam Tuimavave-Gerrard
18 Michael Sio
20 David Fusitua

Coach: John Ackland




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