Teddy. Is. Out.
An absolute dagger for those who not only held through the low scores but copped the HIA effected shocker last round – doubly if you had him as captain like me. Sigh. But at least we know before the round starts and can plan accordingly.
Last round had some of the most convoluted team changes I’ve had to interpret an hour out so hopefully round 8 is far more straight forward, and fingers crossed there are no more false starts for the likes of Lolo and Matto like the previous times they were named to return.
As always, you can follow me on Twitter @AStilesAuthor for all the updates across the round and best of luck this week.
STORM V SHARKS, FRIDAY 6:00PM
Storm: With Nelson Asofa-Solomona already out and Tui Kamikamica starting at lock, I won’t have the pleasure of typing the game day swap. Kamikamica is carrying a shoulder gripe and Aaron Pene has survived the first team cut, but at this stage I haven’t seen anything solid to suggest he won’t play. Storm fans also feel we’ll see Ryley Jacks drop out for either Pene or Dean Ieremia anyway. Trent Loiero and Isaac Lumelume failed to survive the first cut.
Sharks: Jesse Ramien has been ruled out for this one with a glute injury he copped at training and has been replaced at centre by Teig Wilton in the interim with Billy Magoulias joining the bench. Josh Dugan is still lurking on the extended bench after first cut and Buzz reckons he’ll come in at centre, though credit to Jarvie wall bangers for pointing out Hannay mentioning in an interview the Dugan still has a bit to prove before returning to the top squad. Matt Moylan was the other player to drop out after failing to overcome a thigh injury.
BRONCOS V TITANS, FRIDAY 7:55PM
Broncos: No changes likely for the Broncos. David Mead and Brodie Croft were the first cut.
Titans: Anthony Don’s name is still in the casualty ward but he should play this week after missing out in round 7. Should be 1-17. Jai Whitbread and Darius Farmer were cut 24 hours out.
PANTHERS V SEA EAGLES, SATURDAY 3:00PM
Panthers: Api Koroisau is good to go so the Panthers should be 1-17.
Sea Eagles: Coach Hasler has played the old Aloiai prop/Taupau bench and Keppie edge/Olakau’atu bench card basically every week so I expect that change again, though the overall 17 should remain as named.
BULLDOGS V EELS, SATURDAY 5:30PM
Bulldogs: Matt Doorey and Chris Smith (both HIAs), along with Dallin Watene-Zelezniak (infection), are all listed in the casualty ward and are in some doubt. The former two must pass concussion protocols with Joe Stimson and Ofahiki Ogden on standby while DWZ has been cleared to play and should return somewhere in the backline, though Meaney is looking likely to survive at fullback. Update: DWZ replaces Katoa on the wing. Ogden drops out which is good signs for Doorey and Smith.
Eels: Should be 1-17. The vibe is that Ryan Matterson will not be a late inclusion to the starting side but will come on after around 20/25 minutes, pushing Papali’i to the middle to give Brown a spell. Matterson made it through his reserve grade game last week with no issues and could be back into the starting squad next week. Update: Lussick and Rankin are first to drop out.
KNIGHTS V ROOSTERS, SATURDAY 7:35PM
Knights: Should be 1-17, with Connor Watson actually starting at lock as named for a couple of weeks in a row now. Lachlan Fitzgibbon will play some reserve grade before being in contention for selection.
Roosters: James Tedesco has been ruled out due to the head knock he suffered last week, though seems a strong chance to return next round against the Eels. Joey Manu will fill in at fullback as he did when Tedesco went down, with Matt Ikuvalu coming onto the wing and Brett Morris shifting to centre. Siosiua Taukeiaho will return and probably remains on the bench to begin the match. Ben Marschke was a late callup to the starting side last week with Sam Verrills reverting to the bench and the same could happen again this week.
WARRIORS V COWBOYS: SUNDAY 2:00PM
Warriors: Josh Curran successfully downgraded his charge at the judiciary on Tuesday night and is free to play. The Warriors are also renowned forward pack shufflers on game day and we could see similar movement this week, though hopefully nowhere near as many swaps at the dog’s breakfast I had to interpret an hour out last week.
Cowboys: Jason Taumalolo, please return this week. He’ll need to make it through captain’s run to return from breaking his other hand, but the signs look positive at this stage. Jordan McLean hasn’t been at training with Peter Hola or Tom Gilbert on standby.
DRAGONS V TIGERS, SUNDAY 4:05PM
Dragons: After a false start last week, Ben Hunt should be right to return this round assuming he gets through captain’s run. Billy Burns replaced Josh Kerr on the edge in round 7 and we could see the same happen again. The Dragons were another absolute disaster of a final side to interpret so hopefully, like the Warriors, they go easy on the final changes for my sanity.
Tigers: Daine Laurie is in doubt with a hamstring issue and Zac Cini is on standby. No other changes expected at this stage.