Round 24 really was the perfect storm for Late Mail carnage, headlined by Shaun Johnson and the AE nightmares – which incidentally is an excellent band name. SJ’s scratching after the warmup was the first blow in the 1-2 punch of Kerr’s late inclusion on the Dragon’s interchange which for many, including myself, was a savage turn of affairs after already copping Tom Trbo’s injury-affected 1.
It was a case of ‘out of the frying pan, into the fire’ as reeling SuperCoaches were handed the worst TLT since the bye rounds, and we already had a stack of action on the Late Mail front on Thursday night as the 2019 SuperCoach season goes down kicking and screaming.
But as we wind up for the year, I want to sincerely thank the SCTalk lads for taking a chance on an unproven rookie to fill the immortal Wacko’s shoes to deliver the mail each week. I hope I was able to help steer everyone in the right direction over the course of the season.
I also want to thank all of you. This was not only my most successful SuperCoach season ever, but also my most enjoyable through all my interactions with everyone on the site and on Twitter. I felt a connectedness with the game that I’ve not experienced before, and it is a season I will not soon forget.
But enough of my gushing: here it is, the final Late Mail of 2019!
Parramatta Eels vs Manly Sea Eagles, Friday 6:00pm (Bankwest Stadium)
No changes expected for the Eels, with Will Smith and Peni Terepo dropping off the reserves list Wednesday night. For those forced to deploy King Gutherson, it looks like he should stay exclusively at fullback for the second week in a row and could be a smokey in his final game at Bankwetht.
The Sea Eagles should also be 1-17 because really, I’m not sure how many non-injured players they even have in the wings to make late changes at this stage. Tevita Funa and Cade Cust were trimmed 24 hours out.
Melbourne Storm vs North Queensland Cowboys, Friday 7:55pm (AAMI Park)
With the Storm resting several key players I wouldn’t expect any changes. Will Chambers has been nursing a foot injury but cover player Curtis Scott dropped out Thursday night. In massive news, Tom Eisenhuth also drops out, with Joe Stimson to replace him on the interchange in a relief for owners who expected him to nuff out weeks ago.
The Cowboys are also not expecting any changes, with Jake Clifford and Tom Gilbert dropping out of the squad. Jason Taumalolo has been cleared to play but could receive an early shower if/when the game gets out of hand, particularly with Josh McGuire’s return from suspension on the interchange.
Canberra Raiders vs New Zealand Warriors, Saturday 3:00pm (GIO Stadium)
No changes expected for the Raiders with Joe Tapine and Sam Williams dropping out of the 21 on Friday afternoon.
No late changes expected for the Warriors. Coach Kearney said that Jazz Tevaga will require extensive off-season rehab after playing busted for basically the whole year.
Canterbury Bulldogs vs Brisbane Broncos, Saturday 5:30pm (ANZ Stadium)
The Bulldogs should be 1-17 with Raymond Faitala-Mariner and Chris Smith both set to overcome varying maladies and training during the week.
Joe Ofahengaue hasn’t trained during the week and is not expected to return from a calf injury, though will be given until Friday’s captain’s run before a final call is made.
Gold Coast Titans vs St George-Illawarra Dragons, Saturday 7:35pm (Cbus Super Stadium)
Tanah Boyd will start at halfback with Ryley Jacks dropping to the interchange. Ash Taylor and Anthony Don unlikely to be late inclusions into the side.
Zac Lomax must pass concussion protocol after a serious head knock last week but at this stage is not expected to be a late inclusion. James Graham (concussion) and Corey Norman (groin) are expected to play after overcoming injuries of their own.
Wests Tigers vs Cronulla Sharks, Sunday 2:00pm (Leichhardt Oval)
Miraculously, Robbie Farah is a chance to be a late inclusion for his swan song at Leichhardt despite Madge declaring they wouldn’t take any risks with him. Interestingly, Moses Mbye was reportedly ruled out but then appeared on NRL Tonight stating that he was still a chance. It will be an intriguing story to follow over the weekend.
Shaun Johnson left a bitter taste in the mouths of owners last week but is expected to play this round. Whether he retains the kicking duties is another question though, as we have seen him take a back seat earlier in the year when struggling with similar injuries. Matt Moylan is an outside chance to be a late inclusion, which would push Josh Dugan to the wing and either Ronaldo Mulitalo or Sosaia Feki out of the squad. Josh Dugan must also pass concussion protocol to line up.
Penrith Panthers vs Newcastle Knights, Sunday 4:05pm (Panthers Stadium)
Josh Mansour was a surprising inclusion on the extended bench after suffering a back fracture some weeks ago. The Panthers have suggested he is “some chance” to play but it wouldn’t surprise me to see them keep him on ice. He would replace Stephen Crichton should he return.
No changes expected for the Knights, though I’ve seen a few sources state that either Jirah Momoisea or Starford To’a (what’s with the Knights and fantastic rookie names?) could debut in the final game of the year, potentially ruining another 2020 cheapie.