With Origin finally – mercifully – in the rearview mirror we have but one post-Origin round to survive until 2022. Having said, it’s not going quietly with the likes of Tom Trbojevic and Valentine Holmes ruled out and James Tedesco and Brian To’o in doubt. Also note that I’ve listed the game times that were set at time of writing however there are a few moving parts this weekend with Covid.
As usual I’ll be tweeting the 24 hour and game day updates @AStilesAuthor.
Also, to everyone in lockdown around the country, stay safe and reach out if anyone needs to talk.
TITANS V EELS, FRIDAY 6:00PM
TITANS: The Titans’ Origin players – AJ Brimson, Tino Fa’asuamaleaui and Mo Fotuaika – were all keen to backup and have survived the first team cut. The players to drop out were Sam Stone, Jayden Campbell and Mitch Rein so that means at least Brimson seems a lock, though nothing places the other two in doubt at this stage. With nobody else in the casualty ward I’m expecting 1-17, although I wouldn’t be surprised if Tino moves to prop and Peachey to lock with Fotuaika shifting to the bench, as that one extra minute he played over Tino in Origin could be the difference maker.
EELS: After being placed on report at the dying moments for Origin I thought Junior Paulo would be out for this one. He wasn’t charged, but the big prop has been rested anyway with Marata Niukore moving to prop and Will Smith to the bench. Joey Lussick and Keegan Hipgrave were also cut 24 hours out, though Jake Arthur remains which means Mitch Moses could still be rested on game day as well.
SEA EAGLES V DRAGONS, FRIDAY 8:05PM
SEA EAGLES: Unfortunately, Tom Trbojevic will again be rested from post-Origin duties despite TLT giving us hope after he was named at fullback. Des put that to bed during the week and also said the Daly Cherry-Evans should be right to play if he gets through Origin unscathed, which he has. This will see the backline run out as it did last week with Reuben Garrick at fullback and Moses Suli coming into the squad on the wing. Jack Gosiewski was the other man to drop out Thursday night.
DRAGONS: I don’t think the Dragons have the luxury of any game day swaps given their circumstances, so I’m expecting 1-17 here with nobody in any doubt and Ben Hunt making it through his starring Origin role unscathed, with Tariq Sims also pulling up OK despite playing the full 80. Talatau Amone and Jayden Sullivan were cut 24 hours out.
COWBOYS V ROOSTERS, SATURDAY 3:00PM
COWBOYS: Valentine Holmes copped a nasty-looking AC joint injury in an awkward tackle during Origin that is set to sideline him for 2-4 weeks. Javid Bowen replaces him at fullback though Daejarn Asi remains on the extended bench. Francis Molo played but 26 minutes during Origin and should be OK to back up, as should Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow. Ben Condon and Kane Bradley also dropped out.
ROOSTERS: James Tedesco is out for this one. Joseph Manu switches to fullback with Billy Smith coming into the centres. Angus Crichton looks like he’ll be fine to play. Nobody else named is in doubt but I do have some updates on some players not named this week. ‘Where’s Taukeiaho?’ has become an unfortunately common questions over the last couple of rounds with the prop seemingly going missing from the squad with no prior warning. This week it’s attributed to a hamstring injury that will keep him out 2-4 weeks. Joseph Suaalii has also become a true nuff, with the rookie being unfortunately ruled out for the rest of the season after requiring foot surgery. Tuku Hau Tapuha also dropped out Friday afternoon.
RAIDERS V SHARKS, SATURDAY 5:30PM
RAIDERS: Josh Papali’i and Jack Wighton both made it through Origin without incident and should line up in this one, though part of me feels Papali’i could rotate to the bench and play lower minutes. Just a hunch though, as the Raiders need all the wins they can get to slip back into the top 8.
SHARKS: Aaron Woods has been cleared to come into camp and play despite the birth of his daughter on Wednesday. Nobody else seems to be in any doubt however we could see the same switch as last weekend with Siosifa Talakai moving to the edge with Briton Nikora dropping to the bench.
STORM V KNIGHTS, SATURDAY 7:35PM
STORM: All the Storm Origin players – Cameron Munster, Josh Addo-Carr, Dale Finucane, Felise Kaufusi and Christian Welch – made it through the game unscathed however we could see some shuffles on game day as we did after the shorter turnaround in Origin I. The (extra) extended squad includes the likes of Lumelume, Ieremia, Johns and Loiero – all of whom are replacements for the Storm’s Origin players – so captain’s run news and 24 hour cuts will be key here.
KNIGHTS: Coach AOB said earlier in the week that so long as Kalyn Ponga escapes Origin unscathed he will back up, which could be timely for SuperCoaches despite the less than ideal matchup if anybody needs to pivot from James Tedesco. Dan Saifiti and Tyson Frizell have been named to return from rib and ankle injuries respectively and likely just need to tick final boxes throughout the week. Mitch Pearce however is in doubt with a hamstring issue and could be a late out.
WARRIORS V PANTHERS, SUNDAY 1:50PM
WARRIORS: Euan Aitken, Tohu Harris and Chad Townsend are all hovering on the extended bench. Tohu and Chad seem particularly unlikely though it does give optimism for a return soon, though Aitken was only out due to Covid protocols so he could be a late inclusion at centre.
PANTHERS: James Fisher-Harris should be playing this weekend despite being in some doubt due to his impending child, though Brian To’o was apparently limping after Origin and could be given the game off despite coach initially wanting all his Origin stars – To’o, Yeo, Capewell, Koroisau and Martin – on the field. The usual captain’s run/24 hour mail disclaimer holds true here.
BRONCOS V TIGERS, SUNDAY 4:05PM
BRONCOS: He’s not listed in the casualty ward but I did see during the week that’s Kotoni Staggs in serious doubt with a hamstring strain and will not be risked if there is any chance he’s not 100%. Looking at the extended bench, I would expect Jesse Arthars to come into the side at centre if he’s ruled out, or at longer odds we could see Tesi Niu shift to centre with Jamayne Isaako coming in at fullback. Payne Haas and Xavier Coates seemed to get through Origin without issue and should line up.
TIGERS: The Tigers have nobody named listed in the casualty ward so I’m expecting 1-17, however Thomas Mikaele at lock seems dubious so I wouldn’t rule out a game day shuffle in the forward pack.
RABBITOHS V BULLDOGS, SUNDAY 6:15PM
RABBITOHS: Arguably there should have been more Rabbitohs in the Origin side but as it stands I would expect the representative quartet of Latrell Mitchell, Cameron Murray, Damien Cook and Dane Gagai to backup given they have the Sunday night red eye slot though obviously can’t rule out the change Wayne gives one or more of them a breather with the extra extended bench.
BULLDOGS: Jayden Okunbor has been named on the extended bench as he nears a return from his knee injury though he’s still listed in the casualty ward as round 19 so I’d expect he’s given another week to recover. Nobody else seems to be in doubt so I’m expecting 1-17. Not relevant for this game but unfortunately Raymond Faitala-Mariner has been ruled out for the rest of the season due to the foot injury he sustained at the start, despite initially being hopeful he’d be back around this time.