Mason Lino will play his first NRL match in almost two years replacing injured halfback Shaun Johnson for the Warriors’ clash with the North Queensland Cowboys in Townsville on Saturday.
Lino, who last played top flight football in August 2015, has been in stellar form for the Warriors' reserve grade side, and beats out the man many thought was likely to step into the No. 7 jersey in Ata Hingano.
“It’s tough losing a player of Shaun’s calibre but we know Mason will do a good job for us,” said Warriors head coach Stephen Kearney.
“He has been really consistent for our ISP side. At the same time, we have Ata on the bench with his ability to cover the halves and hooker.”
Instead Hingano will come off the interchange bench, joined by Sam Lisone, James Gavet and Ligi Sao,Jazz Tevaga, Chris Satae, Isaiah Papali’i and Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad.
Lino’s inclusion is the only change to the starting line-up used in the 22-34 loss to the Panthers.
The Warriors and Cowboys have split their 36 previous encounters with 18 wins apiece, but Warriors have won only once in their last 11 meetings in Townsville since 2002.
Warriors: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (captain), David Fusitu'a, Blake Ayshford, Solomone Kata, Ken Maumolo, Kieran Foran, Mason Lino, Jacob Lillyman, Issac Luke, Ben Matulino, Bodene Thompson, Bunty Afoa, Simon Mannering.
Interchange: Mafoa'aeata Hingano, Sam Lisone, James Gavet, Ligi Sao, Jazz Tevaga, Chris Satae, Isaiah Papali'i, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad.