With two games already in the history books this round, I feel as though there have been as many late changes as all the other rounds combined! I’ve certainly had my work cut out staying on top of everything from the late inclusion of Zac Lomax (shout out to Copes for the hot tip), the spine shuffle of the Roosters and the complete roster overhaul for the Warriors. But that is the fun of being the Late Mail guy! The round is far from over, so read on to see what’s on the cards for the final six games. I would also like to recognise the contributions of our service men and women to the country that we are privileged to live in today.
Canterbury Bulldogs vs North Queensland Cowboys, Friday 6:00pm (ANZ Stadium)
Both Nick Meaney (finger) and Adam Elliott (concussion) are in some doubt heading into this one, though at this stage both are expected to play. SuperCoaches have placed a big target on Coach Pay, who controversially benched Rhyse Martin an hour before kick-off last round, but God2.0 will retain his starting spot and leak some nice cash heading into the byes. Christian Crichton and Fa’amanu Brown drop out Thursday night.
Cowboys fans and SuperCoaches alike rejoiced on Tuesday when the human wrecking ball Jason Taumalolo was named on the extended bench and labelled as a chance to come back into the side well ahead of schedule. However, we will need to wait another week as he and Corey Jensen were ruled out 24 hours from kick-off after the big man reportedly wasn’t 100% after the captain’s run. No other late changes are expected.
Penrith Panthers vs South Sydney Rabbitohs, Friday 7:55pm (Panthers Stadium)
The Panthers appear set to run out 1-17 after making several backline changes on Tuesday. We get two chances to observe Caleb Aekins’ form and job security before his price changes and Dean Whare is due back. Gus Gould is a notable late exclusion but with his high BE he is a sell. Out of favour duo Dylan Edwards and Tyrell Fuimaono were omitted Thursday night.
The only late change expected at the Rabbitohs is the weekly swap of George Burgess and Tevita Tatola, which at this stage is fooling nobody. Dean Britt and Connor Tracey drop off the extended bench 24 hours out.
Wests Tigers vs Gold Coast Titans, Saturday 5:30pm (Scully Park)
Despite both copping massive head knocks in their round six drubbing by the Eels, Coach Maguire is confident that both Robbie Farah and Luke Garner will be fit to play though both will be monitored in the lead up. David Nofoaluma could also be a late inclusion into the side to spark some attack.
Keegan Hipgrave is likely to succumb again to his back injury which would see Jack Stockwell join the bench for the Titans. The Carty Party almost ended early when Bryce was withdrawn from training, but he is being tipped to play with an SCTalk steak bet on the line.
Brisbane Broncos vs Cronulla Sharks, Saturday 7:35pm (Suncorp Stadium)
Matt Lodge trained strongly on Thursday and is looking to be a late inclusion for the Broncos. It is unconfirmed whether he would be eased back from the bench, or if he relegates Joe Ofahengaue or Payne Haas to the interchange. Tom Dearden was also named on the extended bench, but mail is he won’t make the first cut. However, it does show that the pressure is on the Nikorima-Milford halves pairing to start delivering wins.
The Sharks should run out 1-17, however there is an injury cloud hovering over Sosaia Feki which could earn Si Katoa a reprieve for this round. There is also talk about Bronson Xerri being a late switch to the wing to unleash his speed with Josh Dugan moving to the centres. Also of SuperCoach relevance is the confirmation that Shaun Johnson will take back kicking duties this round.
Manly Sea Eagles vs Canberra Raiders, Sunday 2:00pm (Lottoland)
The Sea Eagles will run out 1-17 with no players in doubt after last weekend. In Tom Trbojevic news, the gun fullback is eying a round 12 return which means he would miss Origin selection and be available for SuperCoaches during the important first bye round.
The biggest talking point for the Raiders was the knee injury sustained by Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, however scans cleared him of anything major and he should take his place for the Green Machine with no other changes expected.
Newcastle Knights vs Parramatta Eels, Sunday 4:05pm (McDonald Jones Stadium)
For the Knights, Sione Mata’utia is likely to be a late inclusion onto the bench at the expense of Herman Ese’ese after overcoming a shoulder injury. The pressure is on the side to start delivering on the pre-season hype.
At Parramatta, Daniel Alvaro is in doubt after copping a heavy concussion in the first hit-up of last week’s game. Manu Ma’u has been named on the extended bench but the Tongan Terminator looks to be at least another week away from his first action of 2019. Blake Ferguson is also still in some doubt after his nose and rib injuries sustained in round five, with Josh Hoffman again the most likely replacement should he be unable to take the field for the second week in a row.