McKinnon returns at No.1 for Warriors - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

McKinnon returns at No.1 for Warriors

05/08/2008 04:16:18 PM Comments (0)

Warriors fullback Wade McKinnon has been rushed back into the top grade for Saturday night's NRL clash against Brisbane in Auckland.

The 27-year-old was initially ruled out for the season after suffering anterior cruciate ligament damage in his right knee in a preseason trial against Newcastle in February, requiring surgery.

Two months ago team doctors gave McKinnon hope of a return before the season's end and Warriors coach Ivan Cleary has named their star custodian in the starting side, without a single match in the lower grades.

"It's a tribute to Wade and our medical staff that he's in a position to come back into the side now," Cleary said.

"He's done everything required of him and we're pleased he's made it back for what is another really important game for us against one of the competition's best sides."

The 12th-placed Warriors sit only two points from sixth spot and the clash shapes as a season-defining one.

For McKinnon, it will also be his 100th in first grade, having made his debut with South Sydney in 2002.

"It's a huge game for us. It always is when you play them and I'm really looking forward to being out there with the boys again," McKinnon said.

"I really appreciate the work the medical guys have done and I can't wait to get back into it.

"It's been difficult at times working my way back from the operation but everyone has been helping me."

McKinnon's return forces Lance Hohaia to the bench and is one of a raft of changes to a Warriors side that went down 18-16 to Souths in Sydney last weekend.

Michael Witt has been recalled to five-eighth, shifting Nathan Fien to halfback and Grant Rovelli out of the side.

Malo Solomona is back on the right wing for Aidan Kirk (hamstring), while Jerome Ropati will start at centre ahead of Sonny Fai.

Epalahame Lauaki will takes Evarn Tuimavave's spot on the bench.

Saturday's match also has centre Brent Tate taking on his former club for the first time since signing with the Warriors in the off-season.

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