The Eels and Knights are set to welcome back their star halves just in time for their crucial clashes.
Meanwhile, another Roosters injury will force coach Trent Robinson to get creative with whatever cattle he has left.
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A key Storm playmaker will be forced to watch on from the sidelines with a fresh injury, while Craig Bellamy also has a big decision to make on where some of his most in-form players line-up.
Penrith’s backline woes have taken another hit, while a Dragon has copped another suspension.
And troops are set to return for the Warriors and Rabbitohs.
Read on for your Round 21 Team Tips.
Newcastle Knights v Brisbane Broncos, Sunshine Coast Stadium, 7.50pm
Last week’s Knights team: 1. Kalyn Ponga 2. Enari Tuala 3. Kurt Mann 4. Bradman Best 5. Hymel Hunt 6. Phoenix Crossland 7. Jake Clifford 8. Jacob Saifiti 9. Jayden Brailey 10. Daniel Saifiti 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Mitchell Barnett 14. Sauaso Sue 13. Connor Watson 15. David Klemmer 16. Josh King 17. Brodie Jones
Team tips: After a really encouraging win over the Raiders, Knights’ star centre Bradman Best told Sky Sports Radio’s Big Sports Breakfast on Monday that veteran half Mitchell Pearce will “100 per cent” return from a hamstring injury on Thursday. Jake Clifford will shift to five-eighth with Phoenix Crossland dropping out of the side. In another boost, Jayden Brailey and Hymel Hunt passed their game day HIAs and should be right to play.
Last week’s Broncos team: 1. Tesi Niu 2. Corey Oates 3. Kotoni Staggs 4. Herbie Farnworth 5. Jamayne Isaako 6. Tyson Gamble 7. Brodie Croft 8. Keenan Palasia 9. Jake Turpin 10. Payne Haas 11. Alex Glenn 12. Jordan Riki 13. Kobe Hetherington 14. Danny Levi 15. Rhys Kennedy 16. Ethan Bullemor 18. Xavier Willison
Team tips: Just as the Broncos started to show some form, they’ve been struck with a double injury blow. Jake Turpin will miss Thursday’s game after suffering a high ankle sprain last week, while star centre Kotoni Staggs is out for the season with another knee injury. Coach Kevin Walters will turn to a very handy No.9 replacement in Danny Levi, who was recalled onto the bench for last week’s game. Levi was placed on report in the final minutes of the Cowboys win but thankfully has escaped with just a fine, while Ethan Bullemor is also free to play after also escaping a ban for a high tackle. Jesse Arthars is the likely man to replace Staggs in the centres.
Canberra Raiders v St George Illawarra Dragons, Cbus Super Stadium, 6pm
Last week’s Raiders team: 1. Jordan Rapana 2. Harley Smith-Shields 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Sebastian Kris 5. Semi Valemei 6. Jack Wighton 7. Sam Williams 17. Joseph Tapine 9. Josh Hodgson 10. Emre Guler 11. Corey Harawira-Naera 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Hudson Young 8. Josh Papalii 14. Tom Starling 15. Matthew Timoko 16. Iosia Soliola
Team tips: There’s no forced changes on the cards for the Raiders with coach Ricky Stuart saying: “we’ve got a few knocks and bruises, but I’ve got enough healthy players in the squad.” Right-edge duo Sebastian Kris and Harley Smith-Shields had a tough day out defensively against the Knights so Stuart might look at changing things up by promoting Matthew Timoko from the bench. Ryan Sutton is a chance of returning from a sternum injury this week, while Corey Horsburgh is also in the frame to return from a dislocated wrist. Sutton would slot back in at lock, pushing Hudson Young back to the bench.
Last week’s Dragons team: 1. Tyrell Sloan 2. Mathew Feagai 3. Corey Norman 4. Talatau Amone 5. Gerard Beale 6. Jayden Sullivan 7. Ben Hunt 17. Kaide Ellis 9. Andrew McCullough 10. Poasa Faamausili 11. Billy Burns 12. Tyrell Fuimaono 13. Tariq Sims 8. Josh Kerr 14. Adam Clune 15. Jaiyden Hunt 16. Jackson Ford
Team tips: Ben Hunt will miss the next month with a broken arm, leaving the door open for Jayden Sullivan to partner Corey Norman in the halves. There’s some good news for Dragons fans with the impact of the infamous barbecue Covid breach now finally coming to an end. Jack de Belin, Josh McGuire, Jack Bird and Blake Lawrie — who all sat out of last Sunday’s game — were the last group of players to serve their one-game suspension and will come back into the side this week. Meanwhile, ex-Dragon James Graham, who works in an off-field role with the club, told Big League Wrap that Zac Lomax and Daniel Alvaro will also be available for selection. The duo’s return from their one-game Covid breach bans was drawn out much longer after they refused to sign a sworn document about the barbecue and ultimately had to complete a quarantine period. Coach Anthony Griffin didn’t give too much away about selection calls but hinted that he will stick with rookie fullback Tyrell Sloan over Matt Dufty, saying Sloan “had some reasonable periods.” Bird and Lomax will slot into the centres with Norman shifting back to five-eighth. Talatau Amone will likely drop back to the bench in place of Adam Clune. Tyrell Fuimaono is facing a suspension after being put on report twice in the Rabbitohs loss so Tariq Sims could shift to the second row and de Belin will come in at lock.
Parramatta Eels v South Sydney Rabbitohs, Cbus Super Stadium, 8.05pm
Last week’s Eels team: 1. Clinton Gutherson 2. Maika Sivo 3. Tom Opacic 4. Waqa Blake 5. Blake Ferguson 6. Dylan Brown 7. Jakob Arthur 8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 9. Reed Mahoney 10. Junior Paulo 11. Isaiah Papali’i 12. Ryan Matterson 13. Nathan Brown 15. Shaun Lane 16. Oregon Kaufusi 17. Will Smith 19. Ray Stone
Team tips: Coach Brad Arthur revealed that star halfback Mitchell Moses “should be right” for Round 21 after suffering a back fracture during his State of Origin debut. Moses will be a straight swap for young half Jakob Arthur. Reagan Campbell-Gillard suffered a groin strain in last week’s loss and will be forced to watch from the sidelines. Oregon Kaufusi will likely be promoted to Campbell-Gillard’s starting spot and with Wiremu Greig and Marate Niukore still out injured it could be time for Makahesi Makatoa — a 28-year-old workhorse prop — to finally make his NRL debut.
Last week’s Rabbitohs team: 1. Latrell Mitchell 2. Josh Mansour 3. Dane Gagai 18. Taane Milne 5. Jaxson Paulo 6. Cody Walker 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Mark Nicholls 9. Damien Cook 10. Thomas Burgess 11. Keaon Koloamatangi 12. Jaydn Su’A 13. Jai Arrow 14. Blake Taaffe 16. Patrick Mago 17. Jacob Host 19. Davvy Moale
Team tips: Coach Wayne Bennett didn’t reveal who but said following last week’s loss that “three or four” players will return against the Eels. Cameron Murray is one of them who is due back from a suspension. He will slot back in at lock, pushing Jai Arrow back to the bench. Liam Knight and Campbell Graham were sidelined due to concussions so should be right to return too. Taane Milne is the expected man to make way for Graham, while Knight will come onto the bench. Benji Marshall is also in the frame to return from quarantine and will replace Blake Taaffe on the bench. Jacob Host and Davvy Moale are unfortunately the two that will make way for Knight and Arrow on the bench.
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Warriors v Cronulla Sharks, Suncorp Stadium, 3pm
Last week’s Warriors team: 1. Reece Walsh 2. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 3. Adam Pompey 18. Viliami Vailea 5. Marcelo Montoya 6. Peta Hiku 7. Sean O’Sullivan 8. Jamayne Taunoa-Brown 9. Taniela Otukolo 10. Ben Murdoch-Masila 4. Euan Aitken 11. Eliesa Katoa 12. Bayley Sironen 14. Kodi Nikorima 15. Bunty Afoa 16. Kane Evans 17. Jazz Tevaga
Team tips: The seriously depleted Warriors walked away from last week’s Tigers clash with the two points and, thankfully, unscathed. They will welcome back some key players this week in Matt Lodge who was out suspended and potentially Chanel Harris-Tavita, who has been sidelined with a pectoral injury. Jamayne Taunoa-Brown will likely make way in the starting pack for Lodge, while Harris-Tavita could see Peta Hiku shift into his more known position in the centres with Viliami Vailea coming out of the side.
Last week’s Sharks team: 1. Will Kennedy 2. Sione Katoa 3. Will Chambers 12. Siosifa Talakai 5. Ronaldo Mulitalo 6. Connor Tracey 7. Braydon Trindall 8. Aiden Tolman 9. Blayke Brailey 10. Aaron Woods 11. Briton Nikora 16. Jack Williams 13. Toby Rudolf 14. Braden Hamlin-Uele 15. Royce Hunt 17. Andrew Fifita 19. Luke Metcalf
Team tips: Matt Moylan will come into contention for a halves spot as he is due to return from a calf injury. If he is fit Connor Tracey will likely shift back to the centres. Jesse Ramien will come back into contention after being ruled out of the clash with the Sea eagles with an ear infection. Siosifa Talakai is likely to shift back to the second row with Jack Williams returning to the bench and debutant Luke Metcalf to swtich to the reserves.
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Sydney Roosters v Penrith Panthers, Suncorp Stadium, 5.30pm
Last week’s Roosters team: 1. James Tedesco 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Josh Morris 4. Adam Keighran 5. Joseph Manu 6. Drew Hutchison 7. Sam Walker 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9. Sam Verrills 10. Isaac Liu 11. Angus Crichton 12. Sitili Tupouniua 13. Victor Radley 14. Lachlan Lam 15. Nat Butcher 16. Egan Butcher 17. Siosiua Taukeiaho
Team tips: Just when the Roosters’ injury list couldn’t get any worse, it does. Veteran centre Josh Morris suffered a hamstring injury in their win over the Eels and will miss the next five weeks. If Brad Abbey travelled up to the Queensland hub he is an option, otherwise coach Trent Robinson may have to get creative and consider moving someone like Angus Crichton into the centres. The club has been linked to Broncos outside back Dale Copley and Manly duo Jorge Taufua and Tevita Funa but no official announcement has been made on any potential signings for the remainder of the season. “It’s tough, we are just going to have to keep juggling the balls there and we have a fine squad. They are just going to have to play in different positions as Joey Manu did tonight,” Robinson said after the Eels game.
Last week’s Panthers team: 1. Dylan Edwards 2. Charlie Staines 3. Stephen Crichton 4. Brent Naden 5. Robert Jennings 6. Matt Burton 7. Jarome Luai 8. Moses Leota 9. Mitch Kenny 10. Liam Martin 11. Viliame Kikau 12. Kurt Capewell 13. Matthew Eisenhuth 14. Izack Tago 15. Scott Sorensen 16. Spencer Leniu 17. J’maine Hopgood
Team tips: Penrith will be without Stephen Crichton after the star centre copped a one-game suspension for a contrary conduct charge. Last week’s 18th man, Paul Momirovski is the likely man to replace him. The Panthers will also get a double boost in the return of skipper Isaah Yeo and Api Koroisau. Yeo missed last week due a nasty head knock, while Koroisau was suspended. As for the man all Penrith fans are waiting for, Nathan Cleary, it’s unlikely he’ll return this week. Coach Ivan Cleary said they “don’t have a date yet” and won’t be rushing the star No.7. “We want him to be able to play at his best so there’s no need to rush it… we’re not going to be taking any risks.” The Panthers picked up Tevita Pangai Jnr for the rest of the season and Cleary said a fortnight ago that he’d likely play his first game against the Roosters. Koroisau will bump Mitch Kenny back to the bench, while Yeo’s return will force Matt Eisenhuth out of the side.
Manly Sea Eagles v Melbourne Storm, Suncorp Stadium, 7.35pm
Last week’s Sea Eagles team: 1. Tom Trbojevic 2. Jason Saab 3. Brad Parker 4. Morgan Harper 5. Reuben Garrick 6. Kieran Foran 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 17. Toafofoa Sipley 9. Lachlan Croker 10. Martin Taupau 11. Haumole Olakau’atu 12. Josh Schuster 13. Jake Trbojevic 8. Taniela Paseka 14. Dylan Walker 15. Karl Lawton 16. Curtis Sironen
Team tips: Prop Josh Aloai is a chance to come back into the 17 as he is due back from suspension. Toafofoa Sipley started last week with Taniela Paseka switching to the bench, but their roles could be reversed when the team is named on Tuesday.
Last week’s Storm team: 1. Nicholas Hynes 2. Dean Ieremia 3. Reimis Smith 4. Justin Olam 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Cameron Munster 7. Jahrome Hughes 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Brandon Smith 10. Christian Welch 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Kenneath Bromwich 13. Dale Finucane 16. Chris Lewis 17. Ryan Papenhuyzen 19. Harry Grant 20. Jordan Grant.
Team tips: Coach Craig Bellamy said Jahrome Hughes could miss a game or two after suffering a calf injury. Ryan Papenhuyzen could return to the No.1 jersey with Nicho Hynes moving into the halves, or another option is to bring in Cooper Johns. Bellamy said Papenhuyzen looked “a lot more confident” after a rusty return in Round 19 from a neck and head injury. Harry Grant was impressive in his return from a hamstring injury. Bellamy hinted that perhaps Brandon Smith would move into the forward pack to allow Grant to start at hooker. There will be some reshuffling of the pack with Nelson Asofa-Solomona due back from a hamstring injury and Felise Kaufusi out with a one-game suspension. Asofa-Solomona may return via the bench, while Chris Lewis seems the most likely option to replace Kaufusi.
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Canterbury Bulldogs v Wests Tigers, Moreton Daily Stadium, Redcliffe, 2pm
Last week’s Bulldogs team: 1. Corey Allan 2. Nick Meaney 3. Will Hopoate 4. Aaron Schoupp 5. Jayden Okunbor 6. Jake Averillo 7. Kyle Flanagan 8. Jack Hetherington 9. Jeremy Marshall-King 15. Dylan Napa 11. Corey Waddell 12. Adam Elliott 13. Josh Jackson 14. Bailey Biondi-Odo 17. Matt Doorey 23. Renouf Atoni 21. Chris Patolo
Team tips: The Bulldogs could be without Jack Hetherington after he was placed on report. Kyle Flanagan passed his HIA after going off in the first half. Hooker Brad Deitz is due back from a hamstring injury, while Chris Smith should be available for selection in the next week or so. Luke Thompson remains a two weeks away with his suspension.
Last week’s Tigers team: 1. Daine Laurie 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Moses Mbye 4. Tommy Talau 5. Ken Maumalo 6. Adam Doueihi 7. Luke Brooks 8. Stefano Utoikamanu 9. Jacob Liddle 14. Alex Twal 11. Shawn Blore 12. Luciano Leilua 13. Joe Ofahengaue 15. Tom Amone 16. Tukimihia Simpkins 17. Michael Chee-Kam 18. Kelma Tuilagi
Team tips: Daine Laurie will miss the rest of the season after breaking his leg in the Tigers’ two-point loss to the Warriors. Moses Mbye shifted to fullback when Laurie suffered the injury and will likely be named in the No.1 jersey this week. In a big boost, coach Michael Maguire confirmed that skipper James Tamou will return after missing last week’s game with a foot complaint. James Roberts will also be available for selection after finishing up his two-week quarantine period and could come in to fill Mbye’s spot in the centres.
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Gold Coast Titans v North Queensland Cowboys, Cbus Super Stadium, 4.05pm
Last week’s Titans team: 1. Alexander Brimson 2. Greg Marzhew 3. Brian Kelly 4. Esan Marsters 5. Corey Thompson 6. Ashley Taylor 7. Toby Sexton 8. Jarrod Wallace 9. Mitch Rein 10. Moeaki Fotuaika 11. Kevin Proctor 16. Beau Fermor 13. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui 12. David Fifita 14. Tyrone Peachey 15. Sam Lisone 17. Jaimin Jollife
Team tips: Titans coach Justin Holbrook was non-committal over whether he would bring Jamal Fogarty back in at the expense of Toby Sexton. “He (Fogarty) will be fit, but I’m not too sure. I’ve been played with how Toby has played, so I’ll have to have a think about that,” Holbrook said.
Last week’s Cowboys team: 1. Jake Granville 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Murray Taulagi 4. Connelly Lemuelu 5. Kane Bradley 6. Scott Drinkwater 7. Tom Dearden 8. Francis Molo 9. Reece Robson 10. Jordan McLean 11. Shane Wright 12. Mitchell Dunn 13. Jason Taumalolo 14. Tom Gilbert 15. Heilum Luki 16. Coen Hess 17. Ben Hampton
Team tips: Winger Kane Bradley has been ruled out for the season. The Cowboys did, however, suffer a hugely disappointing loss to the Broncos in a Queensland derby so Payten could be tempted to shake-up his squad off the back of that.