Given that the entirely of the NRL was nearly a late out last week, round one didn’t deliver too many surprises on the mail front that weren’t known well in advance like the unfortunate injury to Jack Bird.
In fact, a decent chunk of the mail actually helped SuperCoaches, such as Luke Brooks’ injury opening the door for Billy Walters to play big minutes, James Fisher-Harris returning to the starting side and the welcome inclusion of cheapie Josh Kerr. I could get used to this!
But like a V’landys press conference, things grow more confusing this round as COVID-19 takes hold of the world and the great game of rugbaleeg. Any player could be a late out at any stage should they exhibit symptoms of the virus, so be sure to put all of your early round players in your starting sides in case you need to do a quick swap of your reserves.
As usual, be sure to follow me on Twitter @AStilesAuthor for all the game day updates and note that the times below are from the Sunshine State so convert accordingly.
Stay healthy everyone and good luck for Round Two. The rest of the mail will be added Thursday night and I will change the article title accordingly.
Canterbury Bulldogs vs North Queensland Cowboys, Thursday 7:05pm
No concerns for the Bulldogs heading into this one and they should run out 1-17. Morgan Harper and Jack Cogger dropped out Wednesday night.
Josh McGuire doesn’t seem to have suffered any setbacks at the Cowboy’s captain’s run and should return this round from his suspension/knee injury. Justin O’Neill failed his HIA last round but cover player Tom Opacic dropped out Wednesday night, suggesting he is good to go. Coen Hess will play despite nursing a niggle during the week. Shane Wright was also omitted 24 hours out.
St George-Illawarra Dragons vs Penrith Panthers, Friday 5:00pm
No changes expected for the Dragons. Tristan Sailor and Adam Clune dropped out Thursday evening.
Zane Tetevano is a popular sell but is expected to play this round after copping a knee injury in round one. Viliame Kikau will also suit up after a minor shoulder injury last week. Jed Cartwright and Kaide Ellis were omitted 24 hours out.
Brisbane Broncos vs South Sydney Rabbitohs, Friday 7:05pm
Jamayne Isaako is getting a lot of interest this week in SuperCoach circles, however his father Taai has been severely ill with cancer for a year and with the strict COVID-19 travel rules there is a chance in the coming weeks that Jamayne travels home to be with his father given the criticality and 14 day isolation laws. If this eventuates, Jesse Arthurs could find himself at fullback with Xavier Coates or Herbie Farnworth on the wing. Definitely a situation to watch and all the best for Taai and the Isaako family. As for this game, Corey Oates has been battling gastro but should line up with the squad being 1-17. Coates and Tesi Niu droped out Thursday night.
If you haven’t already sold Latrell Mitchell, Bennett said during the week that the Bunnies are “not pushing too hard with him at the moment”, which suggests we could see another game with limited minutes. Much is being made of Latrell’s visit to Taree, but it was his day off and Bennett is unconcerned. No changes are expected to the 17 though and they should run out as is. Bryson Goodwin and Keaon Koloamatangi were omitted 24 hours out.
New Zealand Warriors vs Canberra Raiders, Saturday 2:00pm
Firstly, thanks to the Warriors for making a huge sacrifice to stay in Australia for as long as the competition continues. Jazz Tevaga, Agnatius Paasi, Josh Curran and Gerard Beale all landed in Australia Wednesday night to begin their 14 day isolation in a bid to line up in round four. How this impacts the future rotation is not yet clear. No changes are expected this round to the 17.
Update: New Zealand to held a crisis meeting Friday morning to discuss the new travel bans and decided to stay in Australia and play on in a hugely selfless act.
The Raiders are also expected to be 1-17, despite Charnze Nicholl-Klokstad and Jarrod Croker copping concussions and Josh Hodgson carrying a sternum complaint.
Sydney Roosters vs Manly Sea Eagles, Saturday 4:30pm
Matt Ikuvalu is in some doubt for the Roosters with a concussion, but at this stage is expected to play. If he drops out we may finally see the debut of Angus Crichton in the centres, Brett Morris to the wing and a pack reshuffle.
Manly have no issues heading into this one and should be 1-17.
Cronulla Sharks vs Melbourne Storm, Saturday 6:35pm
Josh Dugan is lurking on the Sharks’ extended bench and could be a late inclusion on the wing for Ronaldo Mulitalo, who is also battling back from a concussion. If Mulitalo is good to go, there is a chance Dugan returns at fullback in place of William Kennedy or at centre with Josh Morris pushing to the back in his final game as a Shark. Wade Graham carried an ankle injury during the week but insists he will be fine.
After losing a keg’s worth of blood last week and sporting a ripper scar, Dale Finucane is set to play this round after declaring that he can see properly again, which is only a good thing. This could also be Harry Grant’s last week at the club, with the player swap with Momirovski looking to finally go ahead next week.
Wests Tigers vs Newcastle Knights, Sunday 3:05pm
No changes are expected for the Tigers this round, and as previously mentioned it could be Paul Momirovski’s last game at the club this season. The only thing holding up the swap now is his desire for a contract extension at the Tigers before departing.
Sione Mata’utia could come into the Knights’ 17 on game day, but this only considered an outside chance for now. No other changes are expected.
Gold Coast Titans vs Parramatta Eels, Sunday 5:15pm
The Titans have all but ruled AJ Brimson out again this week despite naming him on the extended bench. It’s expected that Shannon Boyd will be a late inclusion, which would see either Jai Whitbread drop out or a reshuffle in the centres that would push Dale Copley from the 17 with Peachey starting at centre.
The Eels should run out 1-17 with no concerns heading into this one.