The Sydney Roosters will rush star signing Sonny Bill Williams in for his first NRL start since 2008 following their round one capitulation to South Sydney.
Williams came off the bench as the Roosters slumped to a 28-10 loss to arch rivals the Rabbitohs, having a limited impact in attack but impressing in defence with 28 tackles.
His 53-minute effort was enough to convince coach Trent Robinson that Williams was ready to face the Warriors from the opening whistle, his first start since walking out on Canterbury in 2008.
Robinson’s headaches don’t compare to those in Canberra however, with Raiders coach David Furner seething at the disciplinary breaches which led to star duo Josh Dugan and Blake Ferguson being stood down.
Neither player is available for the Raiders’ away clash with the Gold Coast on Sunday, with Reece Robinson (back) claiming Dugan’s fullback spot while Jack Wighton slides from the wing into the centers and Edrick Lee comes onto the wing.
Eleven teams named unchanged line-ups. Remarkably that included the Wests Tigers who were belted by 32 points on Monday night by Newcastle.
Even impressive prop Aaron Woods was unable to dislodge rookie Jack Buchanan, and was again named on the bench.
The Warriors will take on Williams’ Roosters on Saturday, but will be without powerhouse winger Manu Vatuvei (ankle) ruled out and replaced by Bill Tupou.
The Warriors looked rudderless in their round one loss to Parramatta, and coach Matt Elliott has reacted by sending creative lock Feleti Mateo to the bench.
Meanwhile, Beau Champion faces up to a month on the sidelines with a shoulder injury giving recruit Bryson Goodwin his first start for the Rabbitohs at centre.
Souths are also without enforcer Sam Burgess (suspension), but his absence still wasn’t enough for captain Michael Crocker to earn a promotion from the bench – with Jeff Lima instead joining the starting pack.
Parramatta’s Joseph Paulo gets his chance to impress alongside rejuvenated halfback Chris Sandow after being handed the No.6 jersey following Luke Kelly’s hamstring injury.
Manly co-captain Jason King hasn’t been named by coach Geoff Toovey, but remains a strong chance to return from a shoulder injury.
“He’ll be training with the squad for the full sessions,” Toovey said.
“We’ll just have to assess that as the week goes on.”