Let’s get straight into it this week! (all times AEDT)
Canberra Raiders vs Melbourne Storm, 6:00pm (GIO Stadium)
No late changes are expected for the Green Machine after Jordan Rapana miraculously appeared from the SuperCoach heavens months ahead of schedule after shoulder surgery. That he is named in the starting side and not the outside of the 17 gives us a strong indication that he is not likely to be a late swap-out for failed cheapie Bailey Simonsson. Sam Williams and Jack Murchie were cut from the squad 24 hours out from the match.
The Storm also look to trot out an unchanged side from the round one team that routed the Broncos. Joe Stimson is close but is still at least a round away. Both Albert Vete and Billy Walters were cut from the squad Thursday night.
Brisbane Broncos vs North Queensland Cowboys, Friday 7:50pm (McDonald Jones Stadium)
James Roberts has firmed to start for the Broncos despite lasting but five minutes into round one with a back injury, which means Anthony Seibold’s side should run out 1-17. Eyes will be on David Fifita in his first start this season.
Jordan Kahu may have already overstayed his welcome in many SuperCoach teams, but he has passed concussion protocol and will remain in the #1 jersey for the Cowboys. Paul Green has also strongly hinted that we can expect another late switch in the forward pack as we witnessed in round one, which would see Jason Taumalolo shift to the left edge at the expense of Gavin Cooper, with Josh McGuire to start at lock. Corey Jenson could also replace Francis Molo on the bench, but this is not a SuperCoach relevant change. Both Kahu and McGuire will be playing their first game against their former club.
Cronulla Sharks vs Gold Coast Titans, Saturday 3:00pm (Shark Park)
The Sharks appear set to run out 1-17, despite Kurt ‘Luke’ Capewell and Sione ‘the other Sione Katoa’ Katoa picking up minor niggles. The Sharks should be fired up for this one at Shark Park where Paul Gallen will draw level with Andrew Ettingshausen for the most capped player in club history.
The Titans should also run out 1-17 as named, though the team looks very different to their projected round one side after injuries rocked the club — particularly in the halves. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Tyrone Peachey play at least three different positions during this match.
Newcastle Knights vs Penrith Panthers, Saturday 5:30pm (McDonald Jones Stadium)
The Knights are not expecting any changes to their named side and will look to continue their momentum against a Penrith outfit that spluttered out of the gates last week.
For Ivan Cleary’s Clan, Isaah Yeo (concussion) and Hame Sele (arm) are in doubt for the match, despite the latter being cleared of a far more serious injury. The withdrawal of either could see Liam Martin or Tim Grant come into the side. Josh Mansour didn’t train during the early week but is in no doubt to play.
Manly Sea Eagles vs Sydney Roosters, Saturday 7:45pm (Lottoland)
The Sea Eagles must dream of Tom Trbojevic’s return every night, but unfortunately it will not be this week with Hasler’s team to run out 1-17. There have been rumblings of a Martin Taupau hand injury, but he was unhindered during training and owners hope that rediscovers his offload. Corey Waddell is expected to be fit to make his debut.
The reigning champions are also expected to run out 1-17, despite the baffling decision to keep Angus Crichton on the bench. However, SuperCoaches can be consoled by the fact that he should drop to a juicy price in a few rounds. Latrell Mitchell split his head open in a clash with Dane Gagai in round one and Luke Keary almost wrote off his shoulder, but both are expected to play.
Canterbury Bulldogs vs Parramatta Eels, Sunday 4:05pm (ANZ Stadium)
Despite being on the receiving end of the most comprehensive dismantling of the 2019 season so far, the Bulldogs also appear set to run out the same team that lost to the Warriors. Disgruntled owners who are holding Kerrod Holland can at least be assured that his ankle issues appear to be behind him.
Maika Sivo owners have been nervous since seeing George Jennings named in jersey #20, but the Fijian flyer will retain his starting spot for at least this week and is a chance to remain in the top squad with a good showing against Dean Pay’s men. Nathan Brown’s replacement at lock — Tepai Moeroa —is also under an injury cloud but the moon boot he was sighted in at training seems to be precautionary.
Wests Tigers vs New Zealand Warriors, Sunday 6:10pm (Campbelltown Stadium)
In the last game of the round, the Tigers are set for a backline shakeup with captain Moses Mbye labelling himself a ‘99% chance’ to start at fullback against the Warriors. I have seen conflicting reports about whether this would see Corey Thompson or Mahe Fonua drop out of the side, but you would imagine that whichever retains the jersey this week would make way for David Nofoaluma when he returns. Robert Jennings was suffering from a stomach bug during the week but doesn’t seem to be in any doubt.
For the Warriors, many are expecting Issac Luke to leapfrog his way into the final team at the expense of Sam Lisone. Isaiah Papali’i has been named on the bench after being stood down for round one, though there is a chance that he could switch to a starting edge before kick-off with Adam Blair moving to lock. Keep a close eye on the final team announcement Sunday afternoon.