Daejarn Asi stays in Warriors starting lineup; Watene-Zelezniak returns to wing

By Mana Wikaire-Lewis

Warriors coach Nathan Brown has named his round nine squad to face the Cronulla Sharks - and it includes two returns, following on from their second golden point win of the season over the Canberra Raiders on Saturday (21-20). 

Prop Aaron Pene has fulfilled his one-game suspension for high contact on a Storm player during the Warriors' horrific 70-10 thrashing two Mondays ago, joining as the 17th man. The other is winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, who collided with Storm player Nelson Asofa-Solomona's knee head first in the same game, having to be stretchered off the field.

It was a horror accident that should have put Dallin out for weeks but he has been cleared after undergoing head injury protocols. He replaces Jesse Arthars who picked up a left shoulder injury in the previous Raiders match.

Young five-eighth Daejarn Asi remains in the squad to pair with the golden boot scoring Shaun Johnson in the halves. Asi had a great performance (two try assists, one tackle break) against the Raiders after only signing with the Warriors last week and being chucked into the deep end to start and replace an injured Chanel Harris-Tavita. He also earned the fan-voted NRL's tackle of the week after a huge hit on halfback Brad Schneider and recorded his first win in 11 games.

The Johnson and Asi pairing goes up against Matt Moylan and Nicholas Hynes. Hynes, previously of the Storm, has performed incredibly in just his first season for the Sharks, recording 23 goals, one try, four assists, and nine tackle-breaks. Though not as much as Hynes stats-wise, Moylan has two more try assists than Asi, has scored one try, five line-break assists, and averages 80 metres per game.

The Sharks match will also be of significance to Shaun Johnson who will play his former club for the first since leaving to join the Warriors.

The clubs' last meeting in August 2021 was a two-point victory for the Warriors side, 18-16. In their last five games this year, both clubs have recorded three wins and two losses, but the Sharks (5-3) are one win above the Warriors (4-4) in the overall record. The Cronulla club has shown impressive form to be at fourth place, while the Warriors remain 11th despite their Raiders victory.

Their Sunday showdown kicks off at 6:05pm NZ Time on Sky Sport.