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
According to the stuff.co.nz 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
Despite his star-studded side's 28-10 defeat at the Sydney Football
Stadium, Robinson has kept faith with the personnel exposed by their
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