Yep, I’m back once again, filling in for Wenin. It’s some big shoes to fill though so I’ll get straight into it.
Last week’s Sonny Bill love fest was, as expected, a massive overkill. Fox Sports spent the entire week kissing his ass and even went as far as the “SBW-cam”, a camera specifically dedicated to following him in his return game. All it would have seen is a lot of clapping and cheering while sitting on his butt. And worst of all, it completely rail-roaded Josh Morris’ 300th game. Have you ever seen a 300-game milestone go with such little fanfare? Disgraceful.
As we wait for the teams to drop and the smoke to clear, we already know Kalyn Ponga will miss this week. He’s copped a few “cheap” shots this season and with the Knights officially locking up a finals spot, AOB has taken the opportunity to give his fullback a breather. It’s not great news for us Supercoach’s.
Let’s check out what else in going on in round 18.
TIGERS v RABBITOHS
Thursday, 7.50pm, Bankwest Stadium, Sydney
Tigers: 1. Moses Mbye 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Joey Leilua 4. Adam Doueihi 5. Asu Kepaoa 6. Benji Marshall 7. Luke Brooks 8. Josh Aloiai 9. Harry Grant 10. Thomas Mikaele 11. Luke Garner 12. Luciano Leilua 13. Alex Twal
Bench: 14. Matt Eisenhuth 15. Elijah Taylor 16. Jacob Liddle 17. Sam McIntyre
Reserves: 18. Chris Lawrence 19. Josh Reynolds 20. Russell Packer 21. Tommy Talau
- Zane Musgrove (foot, round 18)
- Billy Walters (knee, season)
The Tigers named the same team that stole a late win against the Eagles last week.
It’s been spoken about so much, and we all expected that David Nofoaluma would finally fall off his pedastal, but it’s never actually happened. He’s unstoppable. He’s right when he said that he deserves to be playing finals footy. Problem is, the rest of his team still doesn’t.
In saying that, Benji is one of the few others who can hold their heads up. He’s had a great season and career. Hopefully, he’ll find another go around and prove to the Tigers that he’s still got it.
Rabbitohs: 1. Corey Allan 2. Alex Johnston 3. Campbell Graham 4. Campbell Graham 5. Dane Gagai 6. Cody Walker 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Liam Knight 9. Damien Cook 10. Thomas Burgess 11. Jaydn Su’A 12. Bayley Sironen 13. Cam Murray
Bench: 14. Mark Nicholls 15. Jed Cartwright 16. Patrick Mago 17. Keaon Koloamatangi
Reserves: 18. Jaxson Paulo 19. Ky Rodwell 20. Troy Dargan 21. Cory Denniss
- Keaon Koloamatangi (HIA, TBC)
- Dane Gagai (hamstring, round 18)
- Jack Johns (finger, round 19)
- Hame Sele (shoulder, finals)
- James Roberts (pectoral, finals)
- Ethan Lowe (neck, season)
- Tom Amone (knee, season)
- Braidon Burns (knee, season)
- Latrell Mitchell (hamstring, season)
Dane Gagai is in on the wing to take the place of Jaxson Paulo. Junior Tatola gets replaced by Liam Knight as starting prop.
Keaon Koloamatangi copped a concussion against Melbourne but has been named on the bench as he progresses though the required protocols.
The Bunnies have hit some form of late, only dropping last weeks game to the always dangerous Melbourne Stom. Cam Murray and Damien Cook also returned to form and should be in serious consideration as VC options, Cook especially.
BULLDOGS v SEA EAGLES
Friday, 6pm, ANZ Stadium, Sydney
Bulldogs: 1. Will Hopoate 2. Nick Meaney 3. Reimis Smith 4. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 5. Jayden Okunbor 6. Jake Averillo 7. Lachlan Lewis 8. Ofahiki Ogden 9. Jeremy Marshall-King 10. Aiden Tolman 11. Josh Jackson 12. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 13. Luke Thompson
Bench: 14. Brandon Wakeham 15. Renouf To’omaga 16. Matt Doorey 17. Sauaso Sue
Reserves: 19. Dean Britt 20. Tuipulotu Katoa 21. Tim Lafai 23. Chris Smith
- Kieran Foran (pec, TBC)
- Dylan Napa (knee, season)
- Joe Stimson (shoulder, season)
- Adam Elliott (shoulder, season)
Kieran Foran must kick every black cat he ever sees. The man was playing some great footy, goes into a tackle like any other day and tears his tit. Season over and another long rehab process. Is it time to just hang them up?
Dylan Napa’s season is done too due to a MCL tear. It’s put his Origin selection into danger and as a Queensland fan, I can tell you I’m devastated. Oh well.
Kieran Holland and Marcelo Montoya join them on the outs. The ins are another big story. Jayden Okunbor has served his suspension and gets his season debut on the wing. I’m hoping for a couple of quiet games from the kid and a low starting price in 2021.
Luke Thompson and Aiden Tolman shuffle around to cover the losses while Jake Averillo, Reimis Smith, Brandon Wakeham and Sauaso Sue fill out the rest of the squad.
Sea Eagles: 1. Tevita Funa 2. Albert Hopoate 3. Brad Parker 4. Morgan Harper 5. Abbas Miski 6. Cade Cust 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Addin Fonua-Blake 9. Danny Levi 10. Martin Taupau 11. Jack Gosiewski 12. Curtis Sironen 13. Jake Trbojevic
Bench: 14. Lachlan Croker 15. Corey Waddell 16. Sean Keppie 17. Taniela Paseka
Reserves: 18. Haumole Olakau’atu 19. Luke Metcalf 20. Morgan Boyle 21. Ben Trbojevic
- Jorge Taufua (calf, TBC)
- Dylan Walker (foot, round 19-20)
- Tom Trbojevic (hamstring, round 19-20)
- Manase Fainu (stood down/shoulder)
- Joel Thompson (ankle, season)
- Brendan Elliot (knee, season)
- Moses Suli (foot, season)
- Reuben Garrick (shoulder, season)
Jorge Taufua has ruptured his achilles. His season is over and the start of next year in jeopardy also. It’s an awful injury and I wish him the best in rehab.
Josh Schuster is out too thanks to an ankle injury. Coming in for the two of them is Abbas Miski and Cade Cust respectively.
Tom Trbojevic is getting closer to a comeback, with latest reports being of a round 19 or 20 return. But why would you worry about it as this stage? Manly’s season is over in three weeks. I mean, mathematically they can still do it but one more win to the Sharks, Warriors or Tigers and it’s season over definitively. Also, the Sharks and Dubs play each other this week.
PANTHERS v EELS
Friday, 7.55pm, Panthers Stadium, Penrith
Panthers: 1. Dylan Edwards 2. Josh Mansour 3. Brent Naden 4. Stephen Crichton 5. Brian To’o 6. Jarome Luai 7. Nathan Cleary 8. James Tamou 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. James Fisher-Harris 11. Viliame Kikau 12. Liam Martin 13. Isaah Yeo
Bench: 14. Tyrone May 15. Spencer Leniu 16. Moses Leota 17. Zane Tetevano
Reserves: 18. Mitch Kenny 19. Kurt Capewell 20. Matt Burton 21. Charlie Staines
- Isaah Yeo (head knock, round 18)
- Dean Whare (toe, round 18)
- Charlie Staines (hamstring, round 18)
Only the one change for the red-hot Panthers as Isaah Yeo has recovered from his concussion suffered in round 16. He comes in at lock which pushed JFH back to prop and Leota onto the bench.
Charlie Staines appears on the reserve list and seems to have recovered from injury. But he can’t force his way into the team that’s won 11 straight games. The last loss for the team came in round 5, against this Eels team.
Cleary is the man in Supercoach at the moment. He hasn’t scored under 70 for seven weeks. However, his one bad game of the year was in that Eels loss. He scored just 39.
Eels: 1. Clint Gutherson 2. Maika Sivo 3. Michael Jennings 4. Waqa Blake 5. Blake Ferguson 6. Jai Field 7. Mitchell Moses 8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 9. Reed Mahoney 10. Junior Paulo 11. Shaun Lane 12. Ryan Matterson 13. Nathan Brown
Bench: 14. Ray Stone 15. Andrew Davey 16. Kane Evans 17. Oregon Kaufusi
Reserves: 18. Haze Dunster 19. Stefano Utoikamanu 20. Will Smith 21. Samuel Hughes
- Dylan Brown (ankle, finals)
- Peni Terepo (personal leave, indefinite)
- Reed Mahoney (shoulder, TBC)
Dylan Brown has had surgery on that ankle injury, ruling him out indefinitely. It’s hard to imagine him getting back on the park. Yet another 2020 victim. Reed Mahoney made a miracle recovery, looking all but season over after suffering his shoulder injury. Fortunately for the Eels, he was cleared of any major damage and has been named to start.
Andrew Davey has been brought in to replace Marata Niukore.
DRAGONS v RAIDERS
Saturday, 3pm, WIN Stadium, Wollongong
Dragons: 1. Matt Dufty 2. Jordan Pereira 3. Euan Aitken 4. Zac Lomax 5. Cody Ramsey 6. Corey Norman 7. Adam Clune 8. Kaide Ellis 9. Ben Hunt 10. Paul Vaughan 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Jacob Host 13. Cameron McInnes
Bench: 14. Billy Brittain 15. Josh Kerr 16. Blake Lawrie 17. Jackson Ford
Reserves: 18. Eddie Blacker 19. Tyrell Fuimaono 20. Brayden Wiliame 21. Max Feagai
- Paul Vaughan (suspension, round 18)
- Trent Merrin (hamstring, round 18)
- Tariq Sims (shoulder, round 20)
- Jack de Belin (stood down)
- Korbin Sims (calf, season)
Ravalawa has been dropped for this weekend’s game, with young 9’s superstar Cody Ramsey to get his NRL debut. The kid was sensational in the preseason tourney and it will be an interesting watch on Saturday afternoon.
Paul Vaughan is back from another suspension, joining Kaide Ellis in the front row. Kerr and Lawrie shift to the bench with Fuimaono dropping out.
Dufty is an intriguing play. The Raiders were already allowing 67.81 PPG to fullbacks before Teddy’s 132 point outing. Can the young gun follow the trend?
Raiders: 1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 2. Semi Valemei 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Jordan Rapana 5. Nick Cotric 6. Jack Wighton 7. George Williams 8. Josh Papalii 9. Tom Starling 10. Ryan Sutton 11. John Bateman 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Joe Tapine
Bench: 14. Siliva Havili 15. Dunamis Lui 16. Hudson Young 17. Corey Harawira-Naera
Reserves: 18. Sam Williams 19. Matt Frawley 20. Matt Timoko 21. Iosia Soliola
- Josh Papalii (shoulder, round 18-19)
- Curtis Scott (leg, round 19)
- Michael Oldfield (thumb, round 20)
- Sia Soliola (facial fracture, finals)
- Sebastian Kris (personal leave, indefinite)
- Corey Horsburgh (foot, indefinite)
- Emre Guler (ankle, indefinite)
- Andre Niko (knee, season)
- Josh Hodgson (knee, season)
- Bailey Simonsson (shoulder, season)
Huge news for Canberra fans. After the fears that Josh Papalii’s season was over with that shoulder injury suffered in round 17, and the reports of him wanting a return to Queensland for family reasons, the Raiders got a double reprieve. The shoulder is all good for the most part, and he’s looking to extend his tenure in the nation’s capital.
Otherwise, there’s not a lot of movement from the team that lost to the Chooks last week.
TITANS v BRONCOS
Saturday, 5.30pm, Cbus Super Stadium, Gold Coast
Titans: 1. AJ Brimson 2. Anthony Don 3. Beau Fermor 4. Young Tonumaipea 5. Corey Thompson 6. Ash Taylor 7. Jamal Fogarty 8. Jarrod Wallace 9. Mitch Rein 10. Moeaki Fotuaika 11. Sam Stone 12. Keegan Hipgrave 13. Tyrone Peachey
Bench: 14. Erin Clark 15. Jai Whitbread 16. Jai Arrow 17. Sam Lisone
Reserves: 18. Tanah Boyd 19. Treymain Spry 20. Darius Farmer 21. Nathan Peats
- Brian Kelly (ankle, TBC)
- Jaimin Jolliffe (ankle, TBC)
- Kevin Proctor (suspension, round 19)
- Ryan James (knee, season)
- Dale Copley (pectoral, season)
Brian Kelly made so many grown men cry last weekend. There’s nothing that hurts more than trading in that form player, on;y to have them go down injured moments into the game. It’s a real kick in the beans, which probably does hurt more. He’s out with that ankle injury, and so is Jaimin Jolliffe.
The two outs have caused a domino effect of changes, with Beau Fermor shifting into the centres (where he scored 57 points last week), Keegan Hipgrave onto an edge and Fotuaika in the engine room.
Jai Arrow has been named on the bench again but could be promoted on game day, after playing 70 minutes last week. He still scored crap though.
Just on Fotuaika, if he keeps punching out 65 minute games and a 70 point average, he might just force my hand into starting him next season. The kid is a gun.
Broncos: 1. Darius Boyd 2. Corey Oates 3. Kotoni Staggs 4. Herbie Farnworth 5. Richard Kennar 6. Sean O’Sullivan 7. Tom Dearden 8. Rhys Kennedy 9. Issac Luke 10. Payne Haas 11. David Fifita 12. Alex Glenn 13. Pat Carrigan
Bench: 14. Corey Paix 15. Ben Te’o 16. Xavier Coates 17. Joe Ofahengaue
Reserves: 18. Jesse Arthars 19. Ethan Bullemor 20. Brodie Croft 21. Pride Petterson-Robati
- Joe Ofahengaue (suspension, round 18)
- Alex Glenn (knee, round 18)
- Xavier Coates (foot, round 18)
- Jake Turpin (hand, round 20)
- Anthony Milford (hamstring, indefinite)
- Keenan Palasia (knee, indefinite)
- Thomas Flegler (shoulder, indefinite)
- Tevita Pangai jnr (stood down, season)
- Tesi Nui (wrist, season)
- Matt Lodge (leg, season)
- Jack Bird (ACL, season)
Alex Glenn returns to captain this sinking Broncos ship, and moves Te’o to the bench. Joe Ofahenguae is another returnee, replacing the suspended duo of Jordan Riki and Jamil Hopoate. Xavier Coates comes onto the bench for Bullemore.
Despite the catastrophe that is the Brisbane season, Haas, Staggs, Carrigan and Fifita still provide great Supercoach options for the run home. Darius Boyd does not.
ROOSTERS v KNIGHTS
Saturday, 7.35pm, Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney
Roosters: 1. James Tedesco 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Josh Morris 4. Joseph Manu 5. Brett Morris 6. Luke Keary 7. Kyle Flanagan 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9. Jake Friend 10. Siosiua Taukeiaho 11. Boyd Cordner 12. Sitili Tupouniua 13. Isaac Liu
Bench: 14. Nat Butcher 15. Lindsay Collins 16. Angus Crichton 17. Sonny Bill Williams
Reserves: 18. Poasa Faamausili 19. Mitchell Aubusson 20. Freddy Lussick 21. Ryan Hall
- Jake Friend (head knock, round 18)
- Matt Ikuvalu (ankle, round 18)
- Mitchell Aubusson (wrist, round 18)
- Lachlan Lam (ankle, indefinite)
- Victor Radley (knee, season)
- Sam Verrills (knee, season)
- Billy Smith (knee, season)
Skipper Jake Friend is back in at the expense of Freddy Lussick. It’s the only change from SBW week.
This makeshift Knights backline could mean big points for Teddy once again. After 176 and then 132 point games, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see the man break into triple figures once more.
Knights: 1. Tex Hoy 2. Edrick Lee 3. Enari Tuala 4. Gehamat Shibasaki 5. Starford To’a 6. Mason Lino 7. Mitchell Pearce 8. David Klemmer 9. Kurt Mann 10. Jacob Saifiti 11. Lachlan Fitzgibbon 12. Aidan Guerra 13. Herman Ese’ese
Bench: 14. Phoenix Crossland 15. Daniel Saifiti 16. Josh King 17. Brodie Jones
Reserves: 18. Sione Mata’utia 19. Pasami Saulo 20. Tautau Moga 21. Chris Randall
- Kalyn Ponga (broken nose, TBC)
- Phoenix Crossland (HIA, TBC)
- Daniel Saifiti (knee, round 18)
- Sione Mata’utia (ankle, round 18)
- Pasami Saulo (suspension, round 18)
- Edrick Lee (arm, round 18)
- Bradman Best (ankle, round 19-20)
- Tim Glasby (concussion, indefinite)
- Andrew McCullough (hamstring, season)
- Connor Watson (Achilles, season)
- Jayden Brailey (knee, season)
- Blake Green (knee, season)
As mentioned at the start of the article, Knights fullback Kalyn Ponga is being rested. What I wasn’t expecting was Mitch Barnett joining him. But it makes sense. The Knights have secured a top 8 spot so now’s the time to rest those injured guys. It just sucks for us. Hymel Hunt is also a restee, but that’s less relevant to Supercoach.
The “ins” are Daniel Saifiti, Edrick Lee and Tex Hoy. Saifiti is only back as far as the bench as he tries to get some runs in his legs. Sione Mata’utia has been named in the reserves and is a chance at a call up too.
STORM v COWBOYS
Sunday, 4.05pm, Sunshine Coast Stadium, Sunshine Coast
Storm: 1. Nicho Hynes 2. Suliasi Vunivalu 3. Brenko Lee 4. Justin Olam 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Cameron Munster 7. Jahrome Hughes 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Cameron Smith 10. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Kenneath Bromwich 13. Tino Faasuamaleaui
Bench: 14. Ryley Jacks 15. Darryn Schonig 16. Albert Vete 17. Isaac Lumelume
Reserves: 18. Tom Eisenhuth 19. Sandor Earl 20. Tui Kamikamica 21. Max King
- Tom Eisenhuth (calf, round 18)
- Nelson Asofa-Solomona (calf, round 18-19)
- Christian Welch (suspended, round 19)
- Brandon Smith (jaw, finals)
- Suliasi Vunivalu (jaw, finals)
- Dale Finucane (calf, finals)
- Tui Kamikamica (lower back, finals)
- Paul Momirovski (finger, finals)
- Marion Seve (knee, season)
Lil’ Papy is out with a minor achilles injury. It’s a huge blow to the 15% of ghost teams that still own him, as he’s been going really well at the back end of the season. He’s replaced by Nicho Hynes, who scored 102 points last time he filled in at fullback. Just a heads up for your draft leagues.
Vunivalu is back from his broken jaw, pushing Lumelume to the bench, and NAS comes in as a straight swap for Christian Welch, who’s out suspended. Ryley Jacks is on the bench.
Cam Munster is a very interesting captains proposition this week. He’s come back from his own injury with a 63 and 78, and is playing a Cowboys side who have allowed 51, 68, 69, 56 and then 62 to Adam Clune.
Cowboys: 1. Valentine Holmes 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Justin O’Neill 4. Esan Marsters 5. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow 6. Scott Drinkwater 7. Jake Clifford 8. Francis Molo 9. Reuben Cotter 10. Jordan McLean 11. Gavin Cooper 12. Mitchell Dunn 13. Josh McGuire
Bench: 14. Daejarn Asi 15. John Asiata 16. Tom Gilbert 17. Corey Jensen
Reserves: 18. Shane Wright 19. Jake Granville 20. Ben Hampton 21. Peter Hola
- Coen Hess (suspension, round 18)
- Murray Taulagi (knee, round 18)
- Jason Taumalolo (calf, round 20)
- Michael Morgan (calf, round 20)
- Reece Robson (hamstring, season)
The Cowboys have named the same team that snatched a golden point victory against the Dragons. I guess you don’t mess with a winning formula, right Coach?
Michael Morgan is said to be “touch and go” to return from his injury this season but they’re aiming for round 20, if anything. Same with Lolo. But with the Cowboys ruled out of finals contention, I don’t see the point.
SHARKS v WARRIORS
Sunday, 6.30pm, Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, Sydney
Sharks: 1. Will Kennedy 2. Sione Katoa 3. Josh Dugan 4. Jesse Ramien 5. Ronaldo Mulitalo 6. Connor Tracey 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Braden Hamlin-Uele 9. Blayke Brailey 10. Aaron Woods 11. Briton Nikora 12. Siosifa Talakai 13. Toby Rudolf
Bench: 14. Teig Wilton 15. Jack Williams 16. Andrew Fifita 17. Royce Hunt
Reserves: 18. Scott Sorenson 19. Bryson Goodwin 20. Braydon Trindall 21. Billy Magoulias
- Shaun Johnson (groin/hamstring, round 18)
- Jackson Ferris (knee, round 18-19)
- Wade Graham (suspended, round 20)
- Chad Townsend (suspended, finals)
- Matt Moylan (hamstring, indefinite)
- Bronson Xerri (suspended, indefinite)
- Cameron King (ACL, season)
The Sharkies have a tenous grip on 8th spot at the moment and need to keep winning to stay in front of the teams chasing them. One of them is this Warriors team who are on the charge.
In great news for the team and those who held, Shaun Johnson is back in for the Sharks. With an 81.8 5RA, SJ was proving that no team could stop him. Unfortunately, a baby did, and then his groin. But he’s back now. Does he retain the kicking with that sore groin? I honestly couldn’t even tell you who else in this team would kick…
Sione Katoa has overcome his slight chest injury to take his spot back on the wing, with Bryson Goodwin dropping to the reserves. However, while Sione remains on the left outside of Dugan, his potential is somewhat capped.
It’s an all new halves pairing with Connor Tracey also an in, replacing Braydon Trindall and Chad Bellend.
Wade Graham joins the Chad as an out through suspension, replaced in the starting side by Siosifa Talakai; great news if he’s still on your bench. And Andrew Fifita makes his return via the bench.
Warriors: 1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 2. Adam Pompey 3. Hayze Perham 4. Peta Hiku 5. George Jennings 6. Kodi Nikorima 7. Chanel Harris-Tavita 8. Jamayne Taunoa-Brown 9. Karl Lawton 10. Isaiah Papali’i 11. Jack Murchie 12. Tohu Harris 13. Jazz Tevaga
Bench: 14. Wayde Egan 15. Adam Blair 16. Daniel Alvaro 17. Lachlan Burr
Reserves: 18. Josh Curran 20. Paul Turner 21. Tom Ale 22. Gerard Beale
- Nathaniel Roache (knee, round 18)
- Adam Keighran (broken nose, round 18)
- Patrick Herbert (hamstring, round 18)
- Jack Hetherington (suspension, round 18)
- Eliesa Katoa (hand, round 19)
- Leeson Ah Mau (pectoral, indefinite)
- Rocco Berry (back, indefinite)
- Leivaha Pulu (compassionate leave, season)
- Agnatius Paasi (compassionate leave, season)
- David Fusitu’a (compassionate leave, season)
- Ken Maumalo (compassionate leave, season)
- King Vuniyayawa (compassionate leave, season)
- Taane Milne (knee, season)
- Jackson Frei (knee, season)
- Bunty Afoa (knee, season)
- Selestino Ravutaumada (season)
Eels pair George Jennings (wing) and Daniel Alvaro (bench) are brought back into the side with Beale and Curran making way. The only other change is a swap between Isaiah Papali’i and Lachlan Burr from starter to bench.
The NRL have issued a statement regarding Jazz Tevaga’s sin-binning, stating that it was a wrong decision. I’m yet to get my formal apology though, nor my extra 8 Supercoach points. I’m awaiting adjustments, Mr. Sangster.
RTS has been amazing of late, with a 3RA of 97 points per game. Can he carry it on against a team who Ponga just destroyed?