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More changes for Wests Tigers ahead of trip across the ditch

Wests Tigers have named a 22-man squad for Sunday’s Round 16 clash against the Warriors in Auckland.

There are a couple of changes to the team that lost to Canterbury Bulldogs at CommBank Stadium a fortnight ago, including another pathways player who is in line to make his NRL debut.

Fonua Pole (pronounced pol-eh) has been named on the bench, after impressing in both the Jersey Flegg Cup and NSW Cup this season.

The 20-year old prop is in line to become Wests Tigers Player #257, and will be the eighth player to make his debut for the club in 2022. 

James Roberts makes his long-awaited return to the top grade after making a successful comeback in the NSW Cup a fortnight ago.

Roberts’ most recent NRL game was the team’s Round 6 victory over Parramatta, before the veteran centre was forced to undergo back surgery.

Big prop Stefano Utoikamanu, pictured, also returns to the side (foot) having not played since Round 12, replacing Alex Twal (concussion – indefinite).

Both teams are on eight points, just two more than current cellar dwellers Gold Coast Titans.

So both the Warriors and the Wests Tigers are well and truly in the running for the dubious honour of “winning’’ the wooden spoon in 2022.

You have to feel for interim Wests coach Brett Kimmorley, who seems to have picked up a poisoned chalice.

It’s hard to see where his side will pick up the two or three wins that will be needed to avoid coming last.

Following this one, Wests Tigers host the Parramatta Eels in round 17, followed by the Panthers a week later.

They then fly north to Townsville to tackle the North Queensland Cowboys, followed by another trek to the Sunshine State to face the Broncos.

There are few “easy games’’ ahead in the season from hell for Wests Tigers.

1. Daine Laurie
2. David Nofoaluma
3. Starford To’a
4. James Roberts
5. Ken Maumalo
6. Luke Brooks
7. Jackson Hastings
8.  James Tamou 
9.  Fa’amanu Brown 
10. Zane Musgrove
11. Luke Garner
12. Kelma Tuilagi
13. Joe Ofahengaue

14. Stefano Utoikamanu
15. Adam Doueihi
16. Alex Seyfarth
17. Fonua Pole

18. AJ Kepaoa
19. Junior Tupou
20. Austin Dias
21. Jacob Liddle
22. Justin Matamua

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