I’m scared. I’m confused. And not because of Nathan’s Cleary’s likely return. This is probably the biggest jinx ever, but I can’t recall typing ‘1-17’ so many times in any article since round 1! Surely there will be many twists and turns along the way but it was nice scouring the casualty ward and finding very few players in there who have been named this week.
As usual, I’ll be tweeting all the 24 hour and game day mail @AStilesAuthor
DRAGONS V PANTHERS, FRIDAY 6:00PM
DRAGONS: Nobody named is in doubt so the Dragons should be 1-17. Poasa Faamausili and Jayden Sullivan were the first players omitted.
PANTHERS: Mass changes in this one and we haven’t even had the Cleary news 100% confirmed yet. Charlie Staines has been dropped and replaced by Taylan May, who has been named on the left wing with Brent Naden switching to the right. Api Koroisau was also found guilty at the judiciary and has been suspended for a week. He has been replaced at hooker by Mitch Kenny with Jaemon Salmon added to the bench. But the big one – Nathan Cleary is a massive chance to return this round unless anything changes in the lead up to the match. Peter Lang reports that not only is he a good chance but if he does play it will be the full 80 minutes without restrictions. This would see Matt Burton switch to left centre, Stephen Crichton to right centre and either Momirovski moving to the wing with Brent Naden dropping out, or Momirovski himself being omitted. Tevita Pangai Junior was trimmed from the extended bench and replaced by Lindsay Smith to make up numbers.
BRONCOS V ROOSTERS, FRIDAY 8:05PM
BRONCOS: Herbie Farnworth didn’t finish training due to a leg injury and has subsequently been ruled out. David Mead comes into the side at centre, while Anthony Milford replaces Ethan Bullemor on the interchange with Bullemor dropping back to the extended bench. Brendan Piakura also dropped out Thursday night.
ROOSTERS: With Angus Crichton taking the early guilty plea and not being named, it seems the Roosters are set for 1-17. Ben Marschke and Tuku Hau Tapuha were the first players cut.
RABBITOHS V TITANS, SATURDAY 3:00PM
RABBITOHS: Dane Gagai has been ruled out with a hamstring issue and has been replaced at centre by Braidon Burns. Hame Sele was also omitted Friday afternoon.
TITANS: With David Fifita already named on the bench (though still in jersey 12) and nobody in any doubt, the Titans should also be 1-17. Esan Marsters and Jamal Fogarty were the first players cut.
COWBOYS V TIGERS, SATURDAY 5:30PM
COWBOYS: Another team with nobody in doubt, should be another 1-17.
TIGERS: Another 1-17 expected here.
SEA EAGLES V EELS, SATURDAY 7:35PM
SEA EAGLES: Also should be 1-17. For anyone worried about the rumour about Tom Trbojevic being out – I found the source on Twitter and it was somebody who had found a tweet from the official Parra Eels account stating that Turbo was out…from their clash in 2019. Breath easy owners.
EELS: Yet another 1-17 on the cards here for the Eels.
WARRIORS V BULLDOGS, SUNDAY 1:50PM
WARRIORS: Dallin Watene-Zelezniak was found guilty at the judiciary and will miss this round and will be replaced on the wing by Edward Kosi. No other changes expected, with Chad Townsend and Wayde Egan unlikely to return from the extended bench.
BULLDOGS: Another 1-17 expected here with the loan players named at the positions they’ll likely run out in.
SHARKS V KNIGHTS, SUNDAY 4:00PM
SHARKS: Another 1-17.
KNIGHTS: Bradman Best scared a lot of new owners last week after copping a shoulder injury. He’s still listed in the casualty ward despite being named and I assume needs to make it through captain’s run to play. Hymel Hunt is also listed with a head knock and would have to pass protocols to line up. Connor Watson still ended up on the bench last week even if it wasn’t a straight swap for Sauaso Sue, but with Fitzgibbon gone I assume this will be the game day swap this round.