Rookie Jonathan Thurston steps in to replace Braith Anasta at five-eighth when the Bulldogs meet the New Zealand Warriors at Ericsson Stadium on Saturday night. Prop Mark O'Meley has been named on the bench after missing the past eight rounds with a broken jaw and Todd Polglase will return to first division.
Returning from a two-week injury lay-off Willie Talau will reunite with his Kiwi Test centre partner Nigel Vagana and says he always enjoys the contest against players from his junior days.
"I played most of those guys when I was younger so it's always sort of like a homecoming when we head over there. They've been playing with plenty of confidence this year and they're putting in for the full 80 minutes which has probably been the difference for them. They're always hard to beat over there and they seem to lift when we play them," Talau said.
The Bulldogs training session at 10am on Friday at Carlaw Park will be open to the public and to the media.
Training times, flight details and the team are listed below:
Wednesday 7 August 1.30pm Ballwork Thursday 8 August 10.45am Depart Sydney (QF 43) (Players arrive at airport at 8.45am) Friday 9 August 10.00am Ballwork (Carlaw Park) Saturday 10 August 7.30pm Game v Warriors Sunday 11 August 5.05pm Arrive Sydney (QF 120)
BULLDOGS V NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS Ericsson Stadium Saturday 10 August, 5.30pm (Sydney time)
1. Luke Patten 2. Hazem El Masri 3. Nigel Vagana 4. Willie Talau 5. Matthew Utai 6. Jonathan Thurston 7. Brent Sherwin 8. Willie Mason 9. Corey Hughes 10. Steve Price (c) 11. Jamie Feeney 12. Steve Reardon 13. Darren Smith
14. Tony Grimaldi 15. Dennis Scott 16. Mark O'Meley 17. Paul Rauhihi
For any further information please contact Media Manager Polly McCardell on 02 9789 2922 or 0407 908 746.