Unfortunately we have lost Wacko in the off-season to greener pastures (all the best Wacko, you will be missed) Late Mail #goat.
But the new boy on the block, Stilesy, is going to be our trusted late mail man this season, and try his best to match the quality of Wacko from years gone by. Enjoy!
Newcastle Knights vs Cronulla Sharks, Friday 6:00pm AEDT (McDonald Jones Stadium)
Despite sitting out the final trial drubbing against the Sharks with niggling injuries, Hymel Hunt (club debut) and Shaun Kenny-Dowall are expected to line-up for the Knights with no other changes expected. Josh King and Brodie Jones drop off the extended bench.
For the Sharks, Matt Moylan will overcome a minor calf complaint to line up at the back of the new look Sharks spine, while Blayke Brailey has passed his final fitness test that will see him make his NRL debut behind brother Jayson despite injuring his thumb in the trials. Josh Dugan will overcome a concussion to start in the centres. Cheapie hopeful Bronson Xerri drops of the extended bench along with Braden Uele. Scott Sorenson is also being tipped to replace Jack Williams in the #17 jersey, though without a starting gig he will be SuperCoach irrelevant.
Sydney Roosters vs South Sydney Rabbitohs, Friday 7:55pm AEDT (Sydney Cricket Ground)
There are no late changes expected for the Roosters, despite many SuperCoaches crying foul over the benching of Angus Crichton in favour of perennial trap Mitch Aubusson. While it would not be out of the realms of possibility for the Tricolours to be playing mind games given Souths were in the media saying they would be targeting Crichton’s surgically repaired shoulder, he will likely be eased back from the injury. Sydney should be fired up for this game given the milestones to Cooper Cronk (350th game), Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (200th game) and Boyd Cordner (150th game).
The two big questions for the Rabbitohs are whether Inglis will play, and will Corey Allan start? Inglis is a confirmed starter and will line up on the right side next to Dane Gagai, with boom cheapie turned trap Corey Allan to remain in the utility role to ease him into first grade while he bides his time for a starting spot. He could also drop out of the squad in favour of Rhys Kennedy or Kyle Turner if Bennett trusts GI’s fitness. Adam Reynolds will take the field after missing the pre-season with a shoulder issue.
New Zealand Warriors vs Canterbury Bulldogs, Saturday 5pm AEDT (Mt Smart Stadium)
No late changes expected for either team, which means the first Rhyse Martin sighting of 2019 will have to wait. There were growing whispers about ankle issues for Kerrod Holland that would keep him sidelined but these have been allayed.
Adam Blair was the only player in doubt for the Warriors with a hamstring complaint, but he will be fit for the match. Tohu Harris will make the switch to the left edge and will be running off rookie halfback Adam Leighran.
Wests Tigers vs Manly Sea Eagles, Saturday 5:30pm AEDT (Leichhardt Oval)
Both teams look set to run out 1-17 after a slew of injuries rocked the Tigers during the week including David Nofoaluma, Moses Mbye and Chris Lawrence. Madge Maguire has backed his decision to keep Josh Reynolds out of first grade for round one, though we could see Jacob Liddle make the final squad which would limit Robbie Farah’s minutes. Esan Marsters returned to New Zealand for his grandfather’s funeral but is set to take the field.
Despite some whispers that Tom Trbojevic would make an early push for a return for the Sea Eagles, the SuperCoach weapon will be on the sidelines for at least one more round and Manly will enter round one with one of the more questionable backlines in recent memory. Api Koroisau will take the field for the first time in 2019 after missing the pre-season with a foot injury and Kelepi Tanginoa must prove his fitness after sustaining a knee injury in the trials. If he is a late withdrawal, Lloyd Perrett will replace him but neither player is SuperCoach relevant.
North Queensland Cowboys vs St George Illawarra Dragons, Saturday 7:35 AEDT (1300Smiles Stadium)
Another match with no changes expected for either side which means cheapies Jordan Kahu, Tom Opacic and Mikaele Ravalawa will debut for their new clubs. Kyle Feldt will miss the match with a groin strain which means Nene MacDonald will take the field despite being dropped for being a late arrival to training.
For the Saints, Paul Vaughan will overcome a concussion sustained in the trials to take the field and could see more minutes with Jack De Belin withdrawing his appeal to play.
Penrith Panthers vs Parramatta Eels, Sunday 4:05pm AEDT
Nathan Cleary (shoulder), Dallin-Watene-Zelezniak (knee) and Josh Mansour (leg cut) will all overcome pre-season injuries to take the field in round one. Ivan Cleary will have a hard job keeping the players focussed after a tumultuous lead up to the season.
For the Eels, a hamstring strain keeps Junior Paulo in doubt for the opener. He has been named outside of the 17 so if you were tempted by the big unit, keep an eye out Saturday afternoon to see if he drops of the extended bench as expected.
Gold Coast Titans vs Canberra Raiders, Sunday 6:10pm AEDT (Cbus Super Stadium)
The Titans welcome back Ryan James, who has overcome a knee injury ahead of schedule and will line up on the edge, which is not his best SuperCoach position. But it is good to see the try-scoring machine on the field. Ash Taylor was rumoured to be a late scratching due to illness but is tipped to take the field.
The Raiders will also line up 1-17, which is good news for John Bateman owners who are taking the plunge sight unseen at NRL level. Joey Leilua has also been nursing a hamstring injury but is a certain starter.