Well…. that was an interesting round for SuperCoach. All the analysis all week was how huge any number of the big names could be and it was anything but. Ponga and Latrell went well enough, but far from huge. That could be said for SJ too. Cleary and Hynes were disappointing considering match ups and especially the score line of the Sharks game.
Onto this week and it’s prelim final time in head-to-head leagues so teams are now extremely important and there are no more second chances. Let’s see how these teams line up.
This Weeks Bye Team/s
The Broncos final bye week and another valuable 2 points for them. Always getting gifted this lot.
NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS vs CRONULLA-SUTHERLAND SHARKS
Thursday, 7.50pm, Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Townsville
Nth Queensland Cowboys
1. Scott Drinkwater 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Murray Taulagi 4. Peta Hiku 5. Semi Valemei 6. Tom Dearden 7. Chad Townsend 8. Jordan McLean 9. Reece Robson 10. Jason Taumalolo 11. Luciano Leilua 12. Jeremiah Nanai 13. Reuben Cotter
Bench: 14. Jake Granville 15. Coen Hess 16. Heilum Luki 17. Griffin Neame
Reserves: 18. Jamayne Taunoa-Brown 19. Zac Laybutt 20. Kulikefu Finefeuiaki 21. Robert Derby 22. James Tamou
The Cowboys got a valuable two points last weekend but still sit in 10th place because of points differential. They’ve also just had a freshen up over the bye week so have been able to return with just one change to the team that played in round 23. But it’s a big one. Jeremiah Nanai ($654.1k – 2RF – BE 102) returns early from injury to the right edge. He’ll definitely help this side as they push for finals.
It is a good game for vice-captains though. For the Cows, Scott Drinkwater ($951.6k – FLB – BE 174) is the premium player to target. Unless you cashed out last week, he is averaging over 90 PPG since returning from suspension in round 6. That’s an insane sustained consistency. But the Sharks are only allowing 55 PPG to opposing fullbacks this year, and 63 PPG over the last five weeks. But if anyone is going to go big here, it’s Drinky.
1. Connor Tracey 2. Sione Katoa 3. Jesse Ramien 4. Siosifa Talakai 5. Ronaldo Mulitalo 6. Braydon Trindall 7. Nicho Hynes 8. Toby Rudolf 9. Blayke Brailey 10. Braden Hamlin-Uele 11. Briton Nikora 12. Wade Graham 13. Cameron McInnes
Bench: 14. Jack Williams 15. Royce Hunt 16. Thomas Hazelton 17. Matt Moylan
Reserves: 18. Mawene Hiroti 19. Tuku Hau Tapuha 20. Jesse Colquhoun 21. Kayal Iro 22. Jayden Berrell
The Sharks got back-to-back wins over the past two weeks so haven’t had to change much in the team list. Tom Hazleton ($326.8k – FRF – BE 21) is back from concussion on the bench with Jesse Colquhoun dropping out.
Ronaldo Mulitalo ($475.9k – CTW – BE -14) was seen limping around during the game after an ankle tweak but played it out and should be ok here.
To counter the Drinky VC above, it’s obviously Nicho Hynes ($721.5k – HFB – BE 95). I did say he was quiet last week as he really didn’t need to do much in the win, but it was only his fourth game under 60 points this year. And the last three times he did that he bounced back with a 98 in round 11, a 129 in round 16, and a 100 in round 23. He also had 126 on the Cowboys back in round 9 and scored 80 on them last year.
THE WARRIORS vs MANLY-WARRINGAH SEA EAGLES
Friday, 6.00pm, Daniel Anderson Stadium, Auckland
1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 2. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 3. Rocco Berry 4. Adam Pompey 5. Marcelo Montoya 6. Luke Metcalf 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Addin Fonua-Blake 9. Wayde Egan 10. Bunty Afoa 11. Jackson Ford 12. Marata Niukore 13. Tohu Harris
Bench: 14. Dylan Walker 15. Jazz Tevaga 16. Bayley Sironen 17. Josh Curran
Reserves: 18. Tom Ale 20. Taine Tuaupiki 21. Freddy Lussick 22. Edward Kosi 23. Ronald Volkman
Not too much here for the Warriors except for the Anton inclusion of Bunty Afoa ($282.3k – FRF/2RF – BE 34). I’m going to have to find that eggplant emoji now. But they do have a couple of guys they’ll be sweating on.
Wayde Egan ($533.6k – HOK – BE 82) was hospitalised due to getting hit in the throat but it doesn’t appear too serious and he’s been named to play. Although Freddy Lussick is on the extended bench just in case. Also, Addin Fonua-Blake ($700.1k – FRF – BE 61) hurt his ankle but it also isn’t too bad.
Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad ($658.5k – FLB/CTW – BE 123) has been named to return but after three concussions this year, I’m far from certain that he’ll be there come game day. That’s something to watch and I’ll try to keep on top of that across the week.
For SuperCoach, the big worry is Shaun Johnson ($886.1k – HFB – BE 57). He’s going to play but he does have a quad concern so relinquished the kicking duties to Adam Pompey ($389.4k – CTW – BE 42) for the game. SJ is averaging 79.9 PPG this season, of which, 11.8 PPG has come through goal kicking. So hopefully that leg is ok and his scoring potential isn’t capped going forward.
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
1. Reuben Garrick 2. Jason Saab 3. Tolutau Koula 4. Morgan Harper 5. Ray Tuaimalo-Vaega 6. Josh Schuster 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Toafofoa Sipley 9. Lachlan Croker 10. Sean Keppie 11. Haumole Olakau’atu 12. Kelma Tuilagi 13. Jake Trbojevic
Bench: 14. Jakob Arthur 15. Dean Matterson 16. Aaron Woods 17. Ethan Bullemor
Reserves: 18. Gordon Chan Kum Tong 19. Ben Condon 20. Samuela Fainu 21. Austin Dias 22. Jamie Humphreys
Brad Parker and Ben Trbojevic failed HIA’s against the Panthers and will be replaced by Morgan Harper ($454.5k – CTW – BE 65) and Kelma Tuilagi ($354k – 2RF – BE 70) respectively.
For those of you who sat Reuben Garrick ($616.2k – FLB/CTW – BE 52), like me, you’d have been disappointed to see his best game since round 15. It certainly bucked the trend of scoring against the Panthers but he looked great and will hopefully carry that form through to the end of the season. They’ll need it with just a small glimmer of hope at a finals appearance remaining.
PARRAMATTA EELS vs SYDNEY ROOSTERS
Friday 8:00pm, CommBank Stadium, Sydney
1. Clinton Gutherson 2. Maika Sivo 3. Viliami Penisini 4. Bailey Simonsson 5. Sean Russell 6. Daejarn Asi 7. Dylan Brown 8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 9. Joey Lussick 10. Junior Paulo 11. J’maine Hopgood 12. Bryce Cartwright 13. Joe Ofahengaue
Bench: 14. Luca Moretti 15. Ryan Matterson 16. Wiremu Greig 17. Brendan Hands
Reserves: 18. Makahesi Makatoa 19. Waqa Blake 20. Ofahiki Ogden 21. Ky Rodwell 22. Jack Murchie
Life just got so much harder for the Eels. They’ve lost Mitch Moses for the remainder of the season due to a fractured cheekbone. Daejarn Asi ($348.3k – 5/8 – BE 51) returns to the halves, but at 5/8 with Dylan Brown ($787.8k – 5/8 – BE 104) moving to halfback as the primary playmaker. It will be interesting to see how that move and added responsibility affects his game play.
Andrew Davey is also out through a failed HIA, but Reagan Campbell-Gillard ($391.7k – FRF – BE 24) and Maika Sivo ($321.9k – CTW – BE 84) are back from their suspensions.
Elsewhere, Joe Ofahengaue ($287.5k – FRF/2RF – BE 0) has been moved to lock and J’Maine Hopgood ($696.6k – 2RF – BE 111) to an edge, which may negatively affect his scoring as his workrate drops.
And personally, I’m running with Clint Gutherson ($759.5k – FLB – BE 124) as vice captain this week. He had 71 on the Chooks in round 5 when we still thought Sydney were good. I expect him to go much larger this time, plus he’ll likely be goal kicking without Moses.
1. James Tedesco 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Billy Smith 4. Joseph Manu 5. Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii 6. Luke Keary 7. Drew Hutchison 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9. Brandon Smith 10. Lindsay Collins 11. Siua Wong 12. Nat Butcher 13. Victor Radley
Bench: 14. Sandon Smith 15. Fletcher Baker 16. Terrell May 17. Angus Crichton
Reserves: 18. Sam Walker 19. Dylan Napa 20. Corey Allan 21. Fetalaiga Pauga 22. Nathan Brown
This is a do-or-die game for the Roosters. If they lose, then they can’t make the top 8. Not with that points differential working against them.
Just one change for the Chooks so far with Angus Crichton ($406.3k – 2RF – BE 52) onto the bench to help boost the pack. However, named in the #18 is Sam Walker ($558.8k – HFB – BE 105). Walker has missed a significant amount of time this year having been dropped in round 8 and then suffering a knee injury in the lower grades, but he’s returned to NSW Cup and is close to earning his way back into the top side.
The one to watch here is Joey Manu ($647.5k – CTW/5/8 – BE 35) who twisted his ankle against the Dolphins. Trent Robinson said it wasn’t too bad after the game so he should be right to play but owners will be wanting more certainty than that before game day.
WESTS TIGERS vs THE DOLPHINS
Saturday, 3.00pm, CommBank Stadium, Sydney
1. Jahream Bula 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Starford To’a 4. Asu Kepaoa 5. Junior Tupou 6. Daine Laurie 7. Luke Brooks 8. Stefano Utoikamanu 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. David Klemmer 11. Isaiah Papali’i 12. John Bateman 13. Fonua Pole
Bench: 14. Jake Simpkin 15. Alex Seyfarth 16. Alex Twal 17. Shawn Blore
Reserves: 18. Justin Matamua 19. Aitasi James 20. Triston Reilly 21. Josh Feledy 22. Kit Laulilii
Despite another loss, the Tigers showed some resolve against the Warriors over the ditch. They’ve been an improved side of late, which is weird since they’re pretty much guaranteed last place at this stage. Anyway, they’ve stuck firm with the 17 from last weekend.
I can’t find any positives from a SuperCoach standpoint though. I’m old enough to remember when your side was stacked with Tigers like Farah, Fulton, Heighington etc. and then when guys like Nofo and Simona came on the scene. But now it’s a team to actively avoid. It’s a sad old story in Tiger-town.
1. Kodi Nikorima 2. Jamayne Isaako 3. Jack Bostock 4. Robert Jennings 5. Tesi Niu 6. Isaiya Katoa 7. Sean O’Sullivan 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Harrison Graham 10. Herman Ese’ese 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Euan Aitken 13. Mark Nicholls
Bench: 14. JJ Collins 15. Josh Kerr 16. Anthony Milford 17. Jarrod Wallace
Reserves: 18. Trai Fuller 19. Max Plath 20. Poasa Faamausili 21. Mason Teague 22. Valynce Te Whare
Things are tough out Dolphins way, wherever that is. First of all, Jeremy Marshall-King has finally succumbed to his busted shoulder. He reaggravated the injury on Saturday night, failed to finish the game and is now being ruled out for the remainder of the year. Keep an eye on him of 2024 with recent games dropping his average almost 7 points after round 13.
The Fins will also be without Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, Connelly Lemuelu and Kenny Bromwich all with head knocks, and Ray Stone is injured after he was already suspended for dangerous contact. It was a weird exchange on the night. He hit Drew Hutchison high, told referee Todd Smith that Hutchison dropped to which he was told “I understand that” and then sent to the sin-bin. And because it’s his third offence, he’s suspended two weeks. Not that it now matters with the injury.
The Fins have also dropped Valynce Te Whare for this clash.
So with no JMK or Stone and Kodi Nikorima ($588.1k – 5/8/HOK – BE 84) playing fullback, Harrison Graham ($260.6k – HOK – BE -32) gets the start at hooker. Jack Bostock ($200.8k – CTW) and Robert Jennings ($297.1k – CTW – BE 5) return in the backs, Mark Nicholls ($423.6k – FRF – BE 34) starts at lock, Euan Aitken ($489.1k – 2RF/CTW – BE 10) goes to the edge and Herman Ese’ese ($341.9k – FRF/2RF – BE 54) comes into the front row.
Keep a close eye on Felise Kaufusi ($418.1k – 2RF – BE 49) too. He’s in doubt with a hamstring concern.
This is pure carnage.
GOLD COAST TITANS vs PENRITH PANTHERS
Saturday, 5:30pm, Cbus Super Stadium, Gold Coast
Gold Coast Titans
1. Keano Kini 2. Alofiana Khan-Pereira 3. Brian Kelly 4. Aaron Schoupp 5. Phillip Sami 6. Jayden Campbell 7. Thomas Weaver 8. Moeaki Fotuaika 9. Chris Randall 10. Jaimin Jolliffe 11. David Fifita 12. Klese Haas 13. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui
Bench: 14. Kruise Leeming 15. Isaac Liu 16. Joe Stimson 17. Jacob Alick
Reserves: 18. Iszac Fa’asumaleaui 19. AJ Brimson 20. Tony Francis 21. Jo Vuna 22. Josiah Pahulu
First things first, Moeaki Fotuaika ($540.2k – 2RF – BE 121) returns from suspension at prop, and with Tino Fa’asuamaleaui ($811.6k – FRF/2RF – BE 92) and David Fifita ($765.6k – 2RF – BE 79) escaping their own suspension concerns from last week, the pack is starting to look strong again.
But, with their season essentially over, the Titans have wrung the changes with a view to blooding for the future. Keano Kini ($228.9k – FLB – BE 24) is starting at fullback, Jayden Campbell ($507.5k – 5/8/FLB – BE 20) moves to 5/8 and Tom Weaver ($200.8k – HFB) earns an NRL debut at halfback.
1. Dylan Edwards 2. Sunia Turuva 3. Tyrone Peachey 4. Stephen Crichton 5. Brian To’o 6. Jarome Luai 7. Nathan Cleary 8. Moses Leota 9. Mitch Kenny 10. James Fisher-Harris 11. Scott Sorensen 12. Liam Martin 13. Isaah Yeo
Bench: 14. Soni Luke 15. Lindsay Smith 16. Matt Eisenhuth 17. Jaeman Salmon
Reserves: 18. Jack Cogger 19. Luke Garner 20. Zac Hosking 21. Thomas Jenkins 22. Spencer Leniu
The Panthers welcome back both Jarome Luai ($686.4k – 5/8 – BE 69) and Mitch Kenny ($388.6k – HOK – BE 59) to the spine, but the new is less positive for Izack Tago. He is technically due to return around now but his leg injury isn’t 100% so it’s Tyrone Peachey ($480.7k – CTW/2RF – BE 55) who is named at centre upon return from suspension. Zac Hosking drops out.
With all the Titans changes, there could be come combination or chemistry issues and I’m firmly on Nathan Cleary ($829.8k – HFB – BE 105) to have a massive game. Right halves against them in the past fortnight have been Braydon Trindall for 89 and of course SJ with his 149. Cleary could go massive here. After all, it was the Titans on whom he scored 225 points against back in 2021.
St. GEORGE-ILLAWARRA DRAGONS vs MELBOURNE STORM
Saturday, 7:35pm, WIN Stadium, Wollongong
St George-Illawarra Dragons
1. Tyrell Sloan 2. Mathew Feagai 3. Moses Suli 4. Zac Lomax 5. Mikaele Ravalawa 6. Talatau Amone 7. Ben Hunt 8. Francis Molo 9. Jacob Liddle 10. Blake Lawrie 11. Billy Burns 12. Dan Russell 13. Michael Molo
Bench: 14. Connor Muhleisen 15. Ryan Couchman 16. Ben Murdoch-Masila 17. Zane Musgrove
Reserves: 18. Toby Couchman 19. Sione Finau 20. Jaiyden Hunt 21. Paul Turner 22. Max Feagai
A couple of inclusions that, quite frankly, don’t move the SuperCoach needle all that much. Zac Lomax ($769k – CTW – BE 104) has been somewhat serviceable of late and is back in at right centre, while Francis Molo ($448k – FRF – BE 63) is back from a concussion layoff.
1. Nick Meaney 2. Reimis Smith 3. Marion Seve 4. Young Tonumaipea 5. Xavier Coates 6. Cameron Munster 7. Jahrome Hughes 8. Tui Kamikamica 9. Harry Grant 10. Christian Welch 11. Trent Loiero 12. Eliesa Katoa 13. Josh King
Bench: 14. Bronson Garlick 15. Tom Eisenhuth 16. Tepai Moeroa 17. Nelson Asofa-Solomona
Reserves: 18. Alec MacDonald 19. William Warbrick 20. Jonah Pezet 21. Tariq Sims 22. Tyran Wishart
So many NRL fans would have gone straight to this spot when the teams dropped this afternoon. I know I did. But unfortunately, we still have to wait on Ryan Papenhuyzen ($950.5k – FLB).
And it looks like the Harry Grant ($797k – HOK – BE 84) shift was a temporary one. He began last week from the bench in order to give him a rest from his huge workload across the season, but it didn’t hurt him. He still featured heavily in the Storm’s destruction of Canberra and crossed the line to get to a SuperCoach score of 110.
NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS vs SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS
Sunday 2.00pm, McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle
1. Kalyn Ponga 2. Dominic Young 3. Dane Gagai 4. Bradman Best 5. Greg Marzhew 6. Tyson Gamble 7. Jackson Hastings 8. Jacob Saifiti 9. Phoenix Crossland 10. Leo Thompson 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Lachlan Fitzgibbon 13. Adam Elliott
Bench: 14. Kurt Mann 15. Daniel Saifiti 16. Jack Hetherington 17. Mathew Croker
Reserves: 18. Dylan Lucas 19. Enari Tuala 20. Adam Clune 21. Brodie Jones 22. Jack Johns
The Knights have been on fire and have been mostly unaffected by injury or suspension over the past month and a half but copped it on Sunday. Jackson Hastings ($498.2k – HFB/5/8 – BE 54) was the victim of a hip drop tackle and suffered a syndesmosis injury. Although it looked awful at the time, it’s apparently only minor but he’s remarkably been named for the time being. Adam Clune has been great in the NSW Cup so is on standby should Jacko not be able to get through the week.
In the outside backs, Bradman Best ($657.8k – CTW – BE 108) returns from a week off to rest a shoulder issue.
I spoke about Kalyn Ponga ($1.022M – FLB/5/8 – BE 123) last week, and for weeks before, being the form player of the comp and as mentioned, he didn’t live up to that over the weekend. It wasn’t a bad score by any means but many were anticipating another 100+ game and he fell short. The question now is can he do it against the Bunnies? He’s only ever played them twice. He scored 71 back in 2018 and then had 92 on them in 2020. Both sides are much different to those ones so it’s really up in the air. For what it’s worth, Souths have only allowed 44.7 PPG to fullbacks across the past three weeks.
South Sydney Rabbitohs
1. Latrell Mitchell 2. Alex Johnston 3. Isaiah Tass 4. Campbell Graham 5. Taane Milne 6. Cody Walker 7. Lachlan Ilias 8. Jai Arrow 9. Damien Cook 10. Shaquai Mitchell 11. Keaon Koloamatangi 12. Jacob Host 13. Cameron Murray
Bench: 14. Tallis Duncan 15. Michael Chee Kam 16. Siliva Havili 17. Davvy Moale
Reserves: 18. Tyrone Munro 19. Hame Sele 20. Peter Mamouzelos 21. Tevita Tatola 22. Dean Hawkins
The Bunnies only issues arising from last week were two fines. It was scrappy, but a wins and win so they’ve gone with largely the same 17 as last week. And Tyrone Munro is still cemented to the extended bench.
This is a great game for SuperCoach, with plenty of guys on either side being relevant, but things are a bit tough when looking for a captain. I mentioned Ponga above but on the Knights defensive side, they are one of the toughest sides to score on during their recent hot streak. They have 5RA’s of points allowed of 56.2 PPG to left halves, 45.8 PPG to fullbacks, 47.8 PPG to hookers and 38 PPG to locks. It’s pretty skint all across the park.
CANBERRA RAIDERS vs CANTERBURY-BANKSTOWN BULLDOGS
Sunday, 4.05pm, GIO Stadium, Canberra
1. Jordan Rapana 2. Albert Hopoate 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Matthew Timoko 5. Nick Cotric 6. Jack Wighton 7. Jamal Fogarty 8. Josh Papali’i 9. Zac Woolford 10. Joseph Tapine 11. Hudson Young 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Corey Horsburgh
Bench: 14. Tom Starling 15. Emre Guler 16. James Schiller 17. Ata Mariota
Reserves: 18. Trey Mooney 19. Matt Frawley 20. Ethan Strange 21. Brad Morkos 22. Adrian Trevilyan
The Raiders got embarrassed by Melbourne but haven’t made a whole lot of changes heading into round 25.
Coming into the side are Jarrod Croker ($397.5k – CTW – BE 69), Tom Starling ($315.3k – HOK – BE 35) and James Schiller ($236.7k – CTW/FLB – BE 24).
On another note, Crokes has announced his retirement from the NRL at the end of this season. The 300-gamer is a Raiders legend, was SuperCoach royalty from 2014-19, and has featured in many SC Report stories courtesy mainly of co-host JT. Congrats on a wonderful career from all of us at SC Talk.
1. Jake Averillo 2. Blake Wilson 3. Jacob Kiraz 4. Braidon Burns 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Matt Burton 7. Toby Sexton 8. Max King 9. Reed Mahoney 10. Liam Knight 11. Viliame Kikau 12. Corey Waddell 13. Ryan Sutton
Bench: 14. Kyle Flanagan 15. Luke Thompson 16. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 17. Tevita Pangai Junior
Reserves: 19. Harrison Edwards 20. Kurtis Morrin 21. Jayden Okunbor 22. Hayze Perham 23. Reece Hoffman
The Dogs were out for revenge last weekend after their previous loss to the Knights and took it out on the players. Jacob Preston was cited for a hip drop tackle on Jackson Hastings and has been suspended for two games. Corey Waddell ($420k – 2RF – BE 53) has been brought in to replace him on the edge and Raymond Faitala-Mariner ($314.3k – 2RF – BE 44) returns on the bench.