NRL 2020: Chanel Harris-Tavita named to start for NZ Warriors opener against Newcastle Knights

Chanel Harris-Tavita has won the race to start in the halves for the NZ Warriors' NRL season-opener against the Newcastle Knights at McDonald-Jones Stadium on Saturday.

Last season's Rookie of the Year will combine with Blake Green, while Kodi Nikorima takes a place on the interchange bench, alongside back-up hooker Karl Lawton, who returns from shoulder surgery.

Star forward Tohu Harris will also make his long-awaited return to the field, after his 2019 season was cut short by a foot injury.

At this stage, captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck seems on track to start from fullback, despite concerns over an ankle injury sustained during their pre-season hit-out against the Wests Tigers in Rotorua. 

Injuries to Agnatius Paasi and back-rower Josh Curran have opened the door for two debutants, with Jamayne Taunoa-Brown and Eliesa Katoa earning spots on the bench.

Taunoa-Brown impressed in his lone pre-season run against the Tigers, as did rugby union convert Katoa, who also shone in the Warriors U20s last year.

NRL 2020: Chanel Harris-Tavita named to start for NZ Warriors opener against Newcastle Knights
Photo credit: Newshub/Getty

Lachlan Burr is listed to partner veteran Leeson Ah Mau in the starting front row, while new signing Wayde Egan is named as the run-on hooker in his club debut.

Fijian King Vuniyayawa is also close to his first NRL appearance, after being named on the extended bench, with utility back Hayze Perham, middle forward Leivaha Pulu and centre/second rower Taane Milne.

Warriors: 1-Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (c), 2-Patrick Herbert, 3-David Fusitu'a, 4-Peta Hiku, 5-Ken Maumalo, 6-Chanel Harris-Tavita, 7-Blake Green, 8-Leeson Ah Mau, 9-Wayde Egan, 10-Lachlan Burr, 11-Adam Blair, 12-Tohu Harris, 13-Isaiah Papali'i

Interchange: 14- Kodi Nikorima, 15-Jamayne Taunoa-Brown, 16-Eliesa Katoa, 17-Karl Lawton, 18-King Vuniyayawa, 20-Hayze Perham, 21-Leivaha Pulu, 22-Taane Milne

Join us for live updates of the Warriors v Knights NRL clash from 5pm Saturday