NRL 2021: Dallin Watene-Zelezniak to debut, Chad Townsend makes club return for NZ Warriors against Dragons

NZ Warriors have rushed the pair of Dallin Watene-Zelezniak and Chad Townsend into the starting side for Friday's round 16 clash with St George Illawarra Dragons in Gosford.

Watene-Zelezniak, 25, makes his Warriors debut after his mid-season arrival from the Bulldogs and starts on the wing, with captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck moving to fullback.

Townsend, 30, on the other hand makes his first Warriors appearance since 2015, having left the club for Cronulla Sharks in 2016.

The halfback went on to play 128 games for the Sharks, including their 2016 premiership victory, but has re-joined the Warriors for the rest of the 2021 season before he links up with North Queensland Cowboys in 2022.

The Kiwi side are without centre Euan Aitken and lock Josh Curran, both of whom are in isolation after sharing a flight with a positive COVID-19 case. Both players are now isolating for 14 days.

NRL 2021: Dallin Watene-Zelezniak to debut, Chad Townsend makes club return for NZ Warriors against Dragons

In their place, Marcelo Montoya moves into centre from the wing, replaced by Edward Kosi, while Ben Murdoch-Masila shifts from the front row to the edge, with Tohu Harris replacing Curran at lock.

Kane Evans starts at prop in place of Murdoch-Masila, while Wayde Egan returns at hooker after missing the 10-6 defeat to Newcastle Knights.

Jazz Tevaga shifts to the bench, alongside Leeson Ah Mau, Bunty Afoa and Bayley Sironen.

Teen sensation Reece Walsh is also absent, after picking up a hamstring injury while on State of Origin duty with Queensland.

The Warriors have lost their last three consecutive games, last tasting victory on May 21 against Wests Tigers.

Join Newshub for live updates of the Warriors v Dragons from 8pm Friday.

NZ Warriors: 1-Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (c), 2-Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, 3-Adam Pompey, 4-Marcelo Montoya, 5-Edward Kosi, 6-Kodi Nikorima, 7-Chad Townsend, 8-Addin Fonua-Blake, 9-Wayde Egan, 10-Kane Evans, 11-Eliesa Katoa, 12-Ben Murdoch-Masila, 13-Tohu Harris.

Interchange (four to be omitted): 14-Jazz Tevaga, 15-Leeson Ah Mau, 16-Bunty Afoa, 17-Bayley Sironen, 18-Rocco Berry, 20-Jack Murchie, 21-Taniela Otukolo, 22-Sean O'Sullivan.