It’s probably appropriate that Wests Tigers will be occupying the twilight zone when they take on the New Zealand Warriors this Friday at Suncorp Stadium.
It’s the 6pm game, often regarded by some fans as the forgotten Friday night match – because they have no problem remembering the big game at 8pm.
But after a week that had the club in the twilight zone from every angle, it’s fair enough that the schedule had also put them in the same place.
Head coach Michael Maguire, whose imminent demise was part of the week’s plot, has just got on with it and this afternoon named his side for the 6pm encounter.
A Wests Tigers home game, Friday’s fixture will form the first part a doubleheader at Suncorp Stadium with the Brisbane Broncos taking on the North Queensland Cowboys later that night.
After a back-and-forth contest ended in a 44-24 defeat against the Sea Eagles last week, Maguire has made several changes for this week’s game against the 14th-placed Warriors.
With Luke Garner (ankle) ruled out for an extended period of time, Shawn Blore will earn the first start of his career after he was named in the back row.
Michael Chee Kam also joins the bench this week with Moses Mbye shifting to centre in place of Junior Pauga, while Alex Twal returns from a shoulder knock to take the place of Alex Seyfarth (knee) on the bench.
A shoulder injury to Thomas Mikaele sees Joe Ofahengaue returning to the lock forward role, with Tom Amone joining the interchange list.
Development player Kelma Tuilagi has been named as part of the reserves, with Jock Madden, Zac Cini and Jake Simpkin rounding out the 21-man squad.
Having won their previous two home games at Suncorp Stadium as part of the Magic Round weekends in 2019 and 2021 respectively, Wests Tigers will be looking to keep that record intact this week against a Warriors side that narrowly triumphed when the two sides met earlier this year at Central Coast Stadium.
The Wests Tigers team is:
1. Daine Laurie
2. David Nofoaluma
3. Moses Mbye
4. Tommy Talau
5. Ken Maumalo
6. Adam Doueihi
7. Luke Brooks
8. Stefano Utoikamanu
9. Jacob Liddle
10. James Tamou (captain)
11. Shawn Blore
12. Luciano Leilua
13. Joe Ofahengaue
14. Alex Twal
15. Tom Amone
16. Tuki Simpkins
17. Michael Chee Kam
18. Kelma Tuilagi
19. Jock Madden
20. Zac Cini
21. Jake Simpkin