Monty Betham will have the dual responsibilities of leading the team and reverting to hooker for the Vodafone Warriors� NRL clash against St George Illawarra in Wollongong on Saturday night.
In his first game back from a six-match suspension, the 27-year-old Betham takes over the captaincy from injured regular leader Steve Price. Apart from the captaincy, 90-game veteran Betham will also find himself back in the No 9 jersey replacing Lance Hohaia, who has been fined $5000 and suspended for one match after breaching club protocol. Vodafone Warriors head coach Tony Kemp said he�s thrilled to have Betham back. �His return couldn�t be better-timed after losing Steve,� he said. �We lose Steve�s qualities but with Monty and Ruben Wiki in the forwards we�re still well-served in terms of leadership and seniority.� Asking Betham to play at hooker wasn�t an issue for Kemp. �With Lance suspended for a breach of internal discipline, Monty comes back at hooker but we have total faith in him playing there and also leading the side. He�s such a valuable player to have, one who�ll play anywhere that helps the team.�
Price is out for up to 12 weeks after suffering medial ligament damage in his right knee in yesterday�s 21-4 win over Wests Tigers. After a scan tonight, it�s likely he�ll have surgery on his knee on Friday. His absence has led to a promotion from the interchange bench for Richard Villasanti, who�ll play his 98th NRL match on Saturday night. Other than those changes, the starting line-up is unchanged from the run-on combination used in the win over the Tigers. �Villa deserves the chance to start. He has been really solid for us over the last few weeks and now has an opening to make the spot his for quite a while,� said Kemp. Winger Manu Vatuvei is also back in the mix after missing yesterday�s match with a flu infection. However, with his late replacement Clinton Toopi in man-of-the-match form against the Tigers, Vatuvei will be on the bench. �Clinton took his opportunity through Manu�s absence and you just couldn�t change the combination we had out there,� said Kemp. �But this isn�t about 13 players. It�s about 17 and, as he did earlier in the season, Manu will have a big part to play from the bench. Also returning to the bench is prop Iafeta Paleaaesina, who missed the last two matches with a knee injury. Evarn Tuimavave will travel as the 18th man. Interchange hooker Tevita Latu has been freed up to play Bartercard Cup football after limited game time recently.
1 BRENT WEBB 2 FRANCIS MELI 3 CLINTON TOOPI 4 JEROME ROPATI 5 TODD BYRNE 6 NATHAN FIEN 7 STACEY JONES 8 RUBEN WIKI 9 MONTY BETHAM (C) 10 RICHARD VILLASANTI 11 LOUIS ANDERSON 12 WAIRANGI KOOPU 13 SIONE FAUMUINA 14 IAFETA PALEAAESINA 15 KARL TEMATA 16 MANU VATUVEI 17 AWEN GUTTENBEIL 18TH MAN: EVARN TUIMAVAVE