Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson will make his much anticipated return to mark 150 NRL appearances when the team play Manly in Christchurch on Saturday.
The 27-year-old has been stalled on 149 games since an ankle injury picked up in the 70th minute of the club’s 26-4 win over Wests Tigers last month.
After scoring his 61st career try in the victory, Johnson was then forced to miss the last three outings against the Sydney Roosters, Parramatta and South Sydney.
With his seventh appearance this year, the club’s record points-scorer (825 points) will become the 12th member of the Vodafone Warriors’ 150-game club having made his debut against the Roosters in 2011 and his 100th against the same opposition in 2015.
Johnson’s return results in Peta Hiku being switched back to the centres while there are two changes among the forwards.
After starting in the 10-30 loss to South Sydney, Simon Mannering goes back to the bench while 19-year-old Isaiah Papali’i has been named to start in the second row.
Ruled out for the next three weeks is utility Jazz Tevaga (shoulder) which sees Karl Lawton remain on the interchange. The four players included on the extended bench are Gerard Beale, Mason Lino, Sam Lisone and Ligi Sao.
The Vodafone Warriors go into the match lying fourth on the ladder on 18 points, two behind Penrith and St George Illawarra. With an 8-4 win-loss record, it’s the first time since 2011 that the Vodafone Warriors have begun the second half of a season with more wins than losses (and only the second time since 2002).
While the Vodafone Warriors are coming off a bye, the Sea Eagles were in action last week, going down 12-26 to North Queensland a week after losing 20-21 in extra time to Canberra the previous round.