SBW to start against Warriors

2013-03-12 10:14
Sonny Bill Williams (Getty)
Sydney - Sonny Bill Williams' return to the NRL has stepped up another notch with the cross-code superstar promoted to the Sydney Roosters starting line-up for Saturday night's clash with the New Zealand Warriors at Eden Park.

According to the website, Williams, who made a heavily scrutinised comeback to the competition he deserted in 2008 during last Thursday's Premiership-launching clash with South Sydney, replaces Mitchell Aubusson in the second row.

The former All Black, who returns to Eden Park for the first time since the Bledisloe Cup was retained with a 22-0 blanking of the Wallabies last August, played 53 minutes off the interchange bench against the Rabbitohs - enough to convince new head coach Trent Robinson Williams was ready to start.

Williams began his comeback playing in the middle of the park but is expected to revert to the edges against the Warriors - the area where he had most impact for the Bulldogs until a sudden switch to French club rugby.

Despite his star-studded side's 28-10 defeat at the Sydney Football Stadium, Robinson has kept faith with the personnel exposed by their bitter rivals.

Williams is the only change to the starting line-up while the Roosters head to Auckland on Thursday while another new acquisition, former NSW State of Origin enforcer Luke O'Donnell is poised to his Roosters debut off the bench.

He replaces New Zealand-born impact forward Tinirau Arona while Boyd Cordner and Dylan Napa are travelling as injury cover.

Meanwhile, the encounter between two heavy losers in the opening round also features five-eighth James Maloney's return to the club where his first grade career blossomed between 2010 and last year.

Maloney left the Warriors on an eight-match losing streak at the end of last season - the sequence ended to nine on Saturday thanks to a dismal 40-10 thumping at Parramatta.

Sydney Roosters: Anthony Minichiello (captain), Daniel Tupou, Michael Jennings, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, James Maloney, Mitchell Pearce, Frank-Paul Nuuausala, Sonny Bill Williams, Aiden Guerra, Sam Moa, Jake Friend, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves. Interchange: Daniel Mortimer, Martin Kennedy, Mitchell Aubusson, Luke O'Donnell.


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