Wests Tigers will head across the Tasman this Sunday to take on the New Zealand Warriors for their final trial match before the 2020 season officially gets underway.
A strong Wests Tigers side has been named for Sunday's game including all five new recruits, while co-captains Benji Marshall and Moses Mbye will also join regular first-graders such as Corey Thompson, David Nofoaluma and Alex Twal in the side.
With both sides emerging with a loss in their first trial match but naming their strongest sides available for the clash in Rotorua, Sunday is set to be a blockbuster event that certainly gives some insight to how the year will unfold.
The two sides squared off last year in a trial match at Whangarei with the Warriors claiming a 26-16 win on the day, but the visitors would get their revenge less than a month later when they piled on the points en route to a big win in Round 2.
Coach Michael Maguire has already said the key for his side will be how the new combinations fare out in the middle amidst a number of intriguing storylines.
Maguire previews Warriors trial, 2020 preparations
The Leilua brothers are set to unite on the same side of the field for the first time in an NRL match this year, with their potency in attack a huge potential weapon for Wests Tigers in 2020. The pair haven't ever been a part of the same club, let alone the same side of the field before, and could offer a genuine X-factor to Maguire playing on a talented right edge controlled by the evergreen Marshall.
In the middle, Billy Walters gets first crack at the number nine jersey after a good performance last week with Josh Reynolds set to come off the bench. With Mbye named in the centres, Walters and Reynolds appear set to battle it out for the hooking duties on Sunday — a result which could certainly come in to the thinking for who starts at hooker come Round 1 in a fortnight's time.
The Warriors also come in to Sunday's game with their fair share of questions at this point of the season. Injuries to several middle forwards in recent weeks have compounded a frustrating injury situation, but there's still more than enough talent in Stephen Kearney's side to cover the loss of depth up front.
The return of Adam Blair and Kodi Nikorima from representative duties, along with the inclusion of Tohu Harris, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, David Fusitu'a, Blake Green, Ken Maumalo and Isaiah Papali’i, sees the home side name a very strong squad all up and will certainly offer plenty of challenges in both attack and defence.
The trial match will be live streamed on www.weststigers.com.au, while coverage is also available via FOX League (Ch.502) and KAYO Sports.
Leilua x Leilua: Double Trouble
Date — Sunday, March 1, 2019
Time — 12:00pm AEDT (2:00pm local)
Venue — Rotorua International Stadium, Rotorua, New Zealand
TV, LIVE STREAM INFORMATION
TV — Live via FOX League (Australia only), SKY Sport (New Zealand)
Live Stream — Free via www.weststigers.com.au, Kayo Sports (subscription required)
Sign up for a free NRL Account to access this video and other exclusive content.
Not sure? Learn more about NRL Account
1. Corey Thompson 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Joseph Leilua 4. Moses Mbye (capt.) 5. Robert Jennings 6. Benji Marshall (capt.) 7. Luke Brooks 8. Thomas Mikaele 9. Billy Walters 10. Alex Twal 11. Luke Garner 12. Luciano Leilua 13. Josh Aloiai (Interchange: 14. Michael Chee Kam 15. Josh Reynolds 16. Adam Doueihi 17. Oliver Clark 18. Chris Lawrence 19. Alex Seyfarth 20. Chris McQueen 21. Zane Musgrove 22. Tommy Talau 23. Elijah Taylor)
New Zealand Warriors
1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (capt.) 2. Patrick Herbert 3. Hayze Perham 4. David Fusitu'a 5. Ken Maumalo 6. Kodi Nikorima 7. Blake Green 8. Leeson Ah Mau 9. Wayde Egan 10. Agnatius Paasi 11. Adam Blair 12. Tohu Harris 13. Isaiah Papali'i (Interchange: 14. Chanel Harris-Tavita 15. Jamayne Taunoa-Brown 16. Adam Tuimavave-Gerrard 17. Karl Lawton 18. Paul Turner 20. Taane Milne 21. Josh Curran 24. Peta Hiku 25. Lachlan Burr 26. Eliesa Katoa 27. Edward Kosi 28. Leivaha Pulu)