Oh boy, here it is again. The post-Origin Late Mail marathon. I, along with thousands of SuperCoaches, watched the match on Wednesday night with baited breath to see how much of a toll it would take on our Round 17 teams. Injuries cruelly eliminated Michael Morgan and Wade Graham, though it now becomes a game of ‘wait and see’ for the remaining players who could face a round of rest.
I won’t delve much into the Origin game itself but lost amongst the commentary of the Blues’ victory was the hot take of the series, delivered by none other than our own JT on Josh McGuire’s performance.
“I hate his Morgan-killing but I like his try-scoring” – It’s no wonder this bloke does the weekly wrap.
As with the last bye, most rest/play decisions will be made during the relevant captain’s runs the day before each game, so treat this week’s Late Mail as a living report that I will keep up to date as information comes to light.
Good luck everyone and may the right players back up for you in Round 17.
Penrith Panthers vs Gold Coast Titans, Friday 6:00pm (Panthers Stadium)
Liam Martin has been ruled out for the Panthers, which sees Isaah Yeo switch to lock, Frank Winterstein to edge and ‘Nuff MVP’ of seasons gone by Jed Cartwright to make his debut from the interchange to kick start a new era of Carty Parties at Penrith. Nathan Cleary is still in the extended squad and has some further fitness tests to pass on Friday with a final decision potentially not coming until the final team announcement at 5pm. The ankle is stable, and it will simply be a pain management issue. James Maloney is a confirmed starter and if Cleary takes the field you’d have to assume Maloney takes on the kicking duties. Kaide Ellis also dropped out Thursday night.
With no Origin representatives this round, the Titans should head into this one 1-17. Leilani Latu and Jesse Arthurs were omitted 24 hours out. In positive news, Jai Arrow is on track to return ahead of schedule and is eying round 19.
Newcastle Knights vs Canterbury Bulldogs, Friday 7:55pm (McDonald Jones Stadium)
Coach Brown has said his Origin players have pulled up ‘pretty sore’, however Mitchell Pearce has already declared himself a certain starter and 24 hours out from the match Tim Glasby and David Klemmer moved from the extended bench to the interchange which is a strong indication they will play. Daniel Saifiti however remains on the extended bench and could be a rest candidate with a final call on all likely to come on Friday. Guerra, Saulo, Jones and Randall were omitted at first cut. Tautau Moga will also be a shock inclusion on the Knights interchange in place of Phoenix Crossland.
For the Bulldogs, Jeremy Marshall-King has been out of action for the last two weeks with an ankle injury but has trained well and will slot straight in for Michael Lichaa should he tick the final fitness boxes. No other changes are expected to Dean Pay’s side. Fa’amanu Brown and Danny Fualalo bowed out Thursday night.
South Sydney Rabbitohs vs Manly Sea Eagles, Saturday 3:00pm (ANZ Stadium)
There is no clarity at this stage of the availability of Damien Cook, Cameron Murray or Dane Gagai, however Ethan Lowe will be rested. Sam Burgess will be ruled out however with an infection post-surgery, which should see Jadyn Su’a come into the side.
Tom Trbojevic is officially out, replaced at fullback by Brendan Elliott. Daly Cherry-Evans and Jake Trbojevic made it through Origin without issue and should back up on Saturday.
Brisbane Broncos vs New Zealand Warriors, Saturday 5:30pm (Suncorp Stadium)
Anthony Milford has been running freely at training and should return at fullback as named on Tuesday for the Broncos. The Origin trio of Corey Oates, Joe Ofahenguae and David Fifita will be assessed on Friday before a call is made on their availability. Given his workload during Origin, the vibe seems to be that Oates is the most likely rest candidate which would see Jamayne Isaako return on the wing after a two-week absence due to personal reasons.
Jazz Tevaga has been monitored in the lead up due to the ankle injury he sustained in last week’s win, however Coach Kearney expects him to play. Peta Hiku must pass relevant concussion protocols and has yet to begin contact work, but Kearney has also said he will ‘definitely play’ with no other changes expected for the side.
Melbourne Storm vs Cronulla Sharks, Saturday 7:35pm (AAMI Park)
If it were any other game I’d expect at least one of Melbourne’s Origin representatives to sit this one out, but for Cameron Smith’s 400th you’d have to think they’d all want to be on the field to give the Unicorn a resounding win in the milestone match. The Storm have a history of turning it on in these games which is ominous for the undermanned Sharks. Jesse Bromwich however is in doubt for this match and could be a last minute out.
After just five appearances this year since rupturing his ACL in 2018, Wade Graham is once again set to be sidelined for 3-4 weeks with a hamstring injury sustained during Origin. Kurt Capewell will slot straight back into the starting side with one of Billy Magoulias, Kyle Flanagan or Blayke Brailey snagging the final interchange position. Matt Moylan is also in doubt with a recurring hamstring issue despite being named on Tuesday. Josh Dugan would shift to fullback if he is ruled out with Aaron Gray to slot in on the wing. Friday’s captain’s run should give us a clearer sign of Moylan’s availability.
Sydney Roosters vs North Queensland Cowboys, Sunday 2:00pm (Central Coast Stadium)
The Rosters have already named a Tedesco and Cordner-less side, so they should run out 1-17. The only player in any doubt is Joseph Manu, who must pass concussion protocol after a knock in round 16 but he is expected to play. Siosiua Taukeiaho has passed his own concussion protocol and will return for the Tricolours.
Michael Morgan copped a nasty concussion during Origin—his second in two weeks—after some friendly-fire from teammate Josh McGuire’s elbow which will rule him out indefinitely due to the NRL’s concussion rules. John Asiata will likely replace him in the halves with Coen Hess a chance to make his return from the interchange. McGuire is expected to back up from Origin and Coach Green suggested Moose could slide into dummy half if needed throughout the game. Jason Taumalolo has claimed he feels revitalised after the bye, which will hopefully translate superbly into SuperCoach points. The Cowboys will want to put in a strong performance for Gavin Cooper’s 300th.
Wests Tigers vs Parramatta Eels, Sunday 4:05pm (Bankwest Stadium)
Moses Mbye is confirmed to back up with no other changes are expected for Madge’s team in what should be an emotional game for Benji’s 300th.
The Eels are expected to be 1-17 with Blake Ferguson making it through Origin unscathed after setting up the match-winning try. The minutes of Manu Ma’u will be interesting to watch this round with the news the Tongan Terminator is off to Super League next season.
St George-Illawarra Dragons vs Canberra Raiders, Sunday 6:10pm (WIN Stadium)
A decision on the Dragons’ Origin players won’t be made until Saturday, though Paul Vaughan is in the most doubt with an ankle concern. This could be offset by the return of James Graham, who is a chance of an early return from a broken leg. If the rep stars are late inclusions it will force a pack reshuffle since they have been named in the reserves. Also of note is that Gareth Widdop is eying a Round 19 return, which would force another spine reshuffle.
Nick Cotric still has some final fitness tests to pass to return for the Raiders though Coach Stuart is confident he will be good to go. Sticky also confirmed that Josh Papalii and Jack Wighton will back up from Origin which would see the side run out 1-17.