Oh boy, what a round. The great David Bowie put it best when he coined the phrase ch-ch-ch-changes and never has a song resounded so strongly with me as it did last week. Round 13 was basically the Olympics of Late Mail, with the playing status of every Origin player being drip fed throughout the week in addition to the complications of non-Origin related outs such as Patrick Herbert and Bryce Cartwright and even a positional switch for Moses Mbye thrown in for good measure.
There were updates coming at us from all angles right up until the final siren but I will admit, it was exciting to be at the forefront and hopefully I was able to see you to safety in what was the toughest round so far.
I’ve entered round 14 like Andy Dufresne escaping the Shawshank sewers, weeping freely as I type the beautiful phrase ‘1-17’ multiple times throughout this article with gnarled, RSI-riddles fingers. The biggest talking point will be the status of James Tedesco, who I spend most of my word count on below. Outside of this, it mercifully looks like a fairly straight-forward round and I hope that it gives you all some breathing room and a platform to put up some solid scores leading up to the second bye.
Gold Coast Titans vs New Zealand Warriors, Friday 6:00pm (Cbus Super Stadium)
The Titans are not expecting any late changes to the 17 named on Tuesday, with Max King and Brenko Lee dropping off the extended bench on Thursday night.
Across the ditch, a wave of gastro swept through Warriors’ camp this week with Blake Green, Blake Ayshford, Karl Lawnton and Issac Luke all failing to train but expected to take the field. Tohu Harris has been dealing with an ongoing knee injury and has already self-withdrawn from the Kiwi’s match next weekend and will be given up until game day to be declared a certain starter. Patrick Herbert and Jazz Tevaga are confirmed starters after overcoming their respective injuries. Chanel Harris-Tevita and Leivaha Pulu were omitted 24 hours out.
North Queensland Cowboys vs Wests Tigers, Friday 7:55pm (1300SMILES Stadium)
Both teams are expected to run out 1-17 this round, with the Cowboys omitting Dan Russell and Emry Pere while the Tigers drop Elijah Taylor and Luke Garner on Thursday night. Perhaps the biggest news for either side this round is the Cowboys finally snagging the signature of Scott Drinkwater for the next 2 seasons, however an early release will only be granted by the Storm if they can secure a replacement.
Melbourne Storm vs Newcastle Knights, Saturday 3:00pm (AAMI Park)
Brodie Croft is clear to play for the Storm after copping an HIA last round from which he didn’t return. Jahrome Hughes will stay at fullback and Papenhuyzen will come off the interchange.
The Knights have Aiden Guerra lurking on the extended bench which is ominous for Mitchell Barnett owners, however he is likely still at least a week away. Josh King has been ruled out and will be replaced by Pasami Saulo.
South Sydney Rabbitohs vs Penrith Panthers, Saturday 5:30pm (ANZ Stadium)
The Bunnies are set to receive a boost, with Alex Johnston confirmed to return from his knee injury at fullback, thus ending the frustrating (for SuperCoaches at least) Corey Allan cheapie experiment. Cameron Murray missed training with the flu but Coach Bennett is confident he will play. The only other projected change is the weekly Prop-Swap™ between George Burgess/Tevita Tatola.
The Panthers are hopeful of continuing their winning ways and aren’t likely to make any last-minute changes, with Reagan Campbell-Gillard already named on the interchange.
Parramatta Eels vs Brisbane Broncos, Saturday 7:35pm (Bankwest Stadium)
Clint Gutherson has passed concussion protocol after being knocked out in the second minute last round and famously laying an egg for SuperCoaches. No other changes are expected.
The Broncos are expected to run out 1-17 with young rake Jake Turpin tipped to retain the starting hooker role until his form dictates otherwise.
Manly Sea Eagles vs St George-Illawarra Dragons, Sunday 2:00pm (Lottoland)
The Sea Eagles have a clean bill of health and aren’t expecting any changes heading into this one.
In a huge blow for the Dragons, Zac Lomax has been ruled out with a broken thumb and will be replaced by Lachlan Maranta. This improves the job security of Euan Aitken.
Sydney Roosters vs Canterbury Bulldogs, Sunday 4:00pm (Sydney Cricket Ground)
The biggest talking point this round is the status of James Tedesco and Boyd Cordner after some mixed media messages about Trent Robinson’s rest policies over Origin. Having named a full-strength squad and the Roosters needing a win, I am in the camp that believes the team will run out as-is, with Tedesco and Cordner being rested after Origin 3. Having said, Cordner is still in some doubt with his ankle injury which would see Mitch Aubusson start on the edge and Sam Verrills come into the side. Tedesco owners would also be shrewd to have a backup plan if he is indeed a late out. As we’ve also seen in the past, Robinson loves changing his 6-7 combo when either Cronk or Keary is unavailable, so I would not be surprised to see Latrell Mitchell again shift into the halves.
Jack Cogger is in some doubt for the Bulldogs after a head knock last week, though he was able to return to the field and should line up at the back. He will however have to pass concussion protocol on Saturday. No other changes are expected for the side.