Lolo Watch enters it’s second week, with the hulking forward’s status seeming to change by the hour. Appearing to be lost for the season with an undisclosed foot injury and Coach Green stating they wouldn’t take risks, he’s come from the clouds to be a likely late inclusion into JT’s Cowboys (thus giving Morgan another weapon to reach his 100+ score this round). Question marks remain over his minutes though, so I don’t regret my decision to sell him last round for the Tongan Terminator, who instantly rewarded me to the tune of 130+.
Elsewhere, concussions reign supreme with around a half-dozen players having to pass protocol to be allowed on the field. To think Gus believes doctors are ruining the game—imagine six potential brain injuries per week waiting to happen if these players take the field while still showing symptoms. Madness.
But the end is near with only three rounds to go so hang in there SuperCoaches and as always, best of luck this round and may the Late Mail be kind.
North Queensland Cowboys vs Penrith Panthers, Friday 6:00pm (1300SMILES Stadium)
Jake Clifford has been ruled out with an ankle injury which shifts John Asiata to the halves and Jason Taumalolo to lock. The Lolo news is surprising considering Coach Green stated in a presser that they wouldn’t take any silly risks and he would likely be playing with pain, not to mention that the Cows’ season is over. Seems like a prudent strategy to rest your million-dollar man so he’s good to go next year but then again, I’m not an NRL coach. Gideon Gela-Mosby is the other man to drop out Thursday night.
Brent Naden appears to have passed concussion protocols given Malakai Watene-Zelezniak dropped out of the side 24 hours out along with Hame Sele. There is a chance that Isaah Yeo and Moses Leota swap between lock and interchange like last week, but no changes are expected to the actual 17. Also, contrary to popular opinion, Josh Mansour is out with a back injury rather than having been dropped.
Brisbane Broncos vs South Sydney Rabbitohs, Friday 7:55pm (Suncorp Stadium)
The action off the field for this game is likely just as interesting as what will happen on it, with Coach Seibold firing shots in all directions: at the Rabbitohs, at Keary, at anyone who crosses his mind. Please keep your focus on the top 8 thanks champ.
Tevita Pangai got smashed by the judiciary and is now out for the next five rounds, so at least we will see him again this year when Broncos make the finals. He wasn’t named on Tuesday, so the news won’t impact the line-up this week. Shaun Fensom and Tesi Niu were cut Thursday night.
Sam Burgess’ injury woes continue with the Englishman ruled out again with his quad complaint. He will be replaced at prop by Tevita Tatola with Tom Amone joining the interchange. Connor Tracey was the other man to drop out. Kyle Turner also drops out, which moves Dane Gagai to centre and Corey Allan to the wing.
Cronulla Sharks vs New Zealand Warriors, Saturday 3:00pm (PointsBet Stadium)
With injuries coming thick and fast for the Sharks, it comes as no surprise that they have another one in the barrel with hooker Jayden Brailey unable to finish training early in the week. His brother Blayke will come straight into the side should he be unable to go. Matt Moylan is also looking at another extended stint on the sidelines with ongoing hamstring issues.
Jazz Tevaga seems to suffer an injury every game and still plays big minutes, so I don’t see any reason why he won’t overcome an ankle complaint to line up at lock with no other changes expected for the Warriors.
Wests Tigers vs Newcastle Knights, Saturday 5:30pm (Campbelltown Stadium)
Matt Eisenhuth was a late call-up to the starting side last round with Thomas Mikaele dropping to the bench, so like the old Gurgess-Tatola weekly switch I feel this could be the new Prop Swap™ to keep an eye on to close out the year.
Despite being named in the reserves, it is currently the NRL’s worst kept secret that ‘Donald’ Bradman Best will debut on the Knights’ left wing, shifting Hymel Hunt into the centres with Tautau Moga dropping out through injury. RIP to another 2020 cheapie—coaches, please stop! Tim Glasby was held out of last week’s matchup due to concussion protocol, but he is likely to be a late inclusion this round.
St George-Illawarra Dragons vs Sydney Roosters, Saturday 7:35pm (Netstrata Jubilee Stadium)
It seems like half the Dragons side must pass concussion protocol this week including Bent Hunt, Tyson Frizell and Patrick Kaufusi—the latter of which is likely to be replaced by either Josh Kerr or Tristan Sailor. Mary has hinted that he is likely to give both minutes over the final rounds. Kerr’s emergence in particular could be a serious AE nightmare for owners moving forward.
No late changes are expected for the Roosters, with Boyd Cordner targeting a Round 24 return. Potential Angus Crichton owners should take this into account as he may be a one-week play.
Melbourne Storm vs Gold Coast Titans, Sunday 2:00pm (AAMI Park)
The Storm look to run out 1-17 in what should be one of the most lopsided matches this year.
Only one potential late change for the Titans, with Anthony Don a chance to return on the wing.
Canberra Raiders vs Manly Sea Eagles, Sunday 4:05pm (GIO Stadium)
No late changes expected in this one either, with both sides firming to be 1-17.