Cronulla’s chances of coming away from Newcastle with two crucial competition points have taken a massive hit with star halfback Nicho Hynes ruled out for at least this week after suffering a thigh injury at training.
The playmaker is set to be replaced in the starting side by veteran Matt Moylan, who will start at five-eighth with Braydon Trindall taking over as chief playmaker.
Hynes could also miss next Sunday’s home clash with Canberra which could have a large bearing on where both teams finish in the finals equation.
Just one competition point separates the fifth-placed Sharks and seventh-placed Knights on the ladder.
Newcastle are still not certain on the fitness of their No.7 with Jackson Hastings pushing to make a return from an ankle injury which kept him out of last Sunday’s win over Souths, with Adam Clune again on standby for the match which has been declared a sell-out.
Ryan Papenhuyzen is a chance to play his first NRL match in more than a year with the star fullback named on the Storm’s extended bench.
“We’ll see how he pulls up from training today and then if he pulls up OK, and I mean 100 per cent OK, there’s a good chance that we will put him in somewhere tomorrow,” Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy said on Friday.
Papenhuyzen is now three games back in his return from a fractured kneecap in the Queensland Cup and although Bellamy said after the win over the Dragons that he was in no rush to bring him back into the NRL side, he could play this Saturday against the Titans in what would be one of the feelgood stories of the year.
There were fears that his career could be in jeopardy after the horrific injury and if he can get back to his best, he will be a very handy asset for Melbourne in their finals campaign.
Manly are out of finals contention but Anthony Seibold has sent a message to Josh Schuster by dropping the under-performing star this weekend after a string of underwhelming performances from his $800,000 star.
Schuster has only recently signed a new contract, but after a year of trying to play five-eighth, he was moved to the back row, then the bench and is now out of the side entirely.
Schuster didn’t make a single carry in a 25-minute cameo in Auckland. It is the second time this year that Schuster has been ditched from first grade, with Seibold leaving him out several times early in the season after issues with his conditioning.
On the judiciary front, Latrell Mitchell will be out for the final round after he was sin-binned late in the loss to Newcastle on Sunday when he came in late and struck Frizell in the back of the head with his forearm after the veteran Knight had been tackled.
He was charged with grade-two dangerous contact and he has opted to cop a one-game ban with an early guilty plea instead of risking two matches out at the judiciary.
Souths take on the Roosters in the final round of the season which will likely determine which team gets a playoff spot.
Panthers prop James Fisher-Harris was lucky to avoid suspension with the Kiwi international fined $1000 for a hip-drop tackle in his team’s win over the Titans.
Jordan Rapana and Matt Burton were pinged for dangerous contact with the Canberra fullback taking a $3000 fine over a two-match ban as a repeat offender while the Bulldogs five-eighth was pinged $1800 as it’s only his second offence.
Dolphins halfback Sean O’Sullivan ($750 for dangerous contact), Warriors prop Bunty Afoa ($1000 for dangerous contact) and Cowboys winger Semi Valemei ($750 for a high tackle) were also charged.
Brisbane skipper Adam Reynolds will miss the clash with Canberra with a calf injury and is set to be replaced at halfback by Jock Madden.
He suffered the injury at Friday’s training session while the team had the bye and the club we will take a cautious approach by resting him from this Friday’s trip to Canberra and potentially the final round against the Storm.
Raiders duo Corey Horsburgh (concussion) and winger Albert Hopoate (rib) are doubtful after copping knocks in the win over Canterbury on Sunday but Jack Wighton should be right after missing the match with a hamstring strain.
Roosters skipper James Tedesco is out of this weekend’s game against Wests Tigers after failing an HIA in Friday’s win over Parramatta. Veteran prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves should be good to go after skipping the win over the Eels with a minor neck problem while Sam Walker is back in the No.7 jersey for the first time in three months after being dropped then suffering a knee injury.
Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow returns to fullback for the Dolphins and is ready for a showdown with former North Queensland teammate Scott Drinkwater that will have huge NRL finals implications. “Hammer” missed last week’s 24-23 loss to Wests Tigers with a head knock but on Tuesday trained at No.1 ahead of Friday night’s clash at Suncorp Stadium.
The Dolphins have ditched the experiment of playing the Queensland star at centre and have moved him back to his favourite position.
“I’m excited to be back there. I have played centre but fullback is the number one position I prefer,” he said.
Titans young gun Jayden Campbell has been cleared of an ACL tear but will not play again this year after suffering a knee injury in the loss to Penrith. Gold Coast teammates Phil Sami (foot), Tanah Boyd (shoulder) and Erin Clark (shoulder) also won’t be seen again until 2024.
Odds: Panthers $1.10, Eels $7 – odds via PlayUp
Panthers: 1. Dylan Edwards 2. Sunia Turuva 3. Tyrone Peachey 4. Stephen Crichton 5. Brian To’o 6. Jarome Luai 7. Nathan Cleary 8. Moses Leota 9. Jack Cogger 10. James Fisher-Harris 11. Zac Hosking 12. Liam Martin 13. Isaah Yeo 14. Soni Luke 15. Lindsay Smith 16. Spencer Leniu 17. Luke Garner 18. Jaemon Salmon 19. Luke Sommerton 20. Jesse McLean 21. Thomas Jenkins 22. Matt Eisenhuth
James Fisher-Harris is free to play after copping a fine for a hip-drop tackle. Brian To’o, Mitch Kenny and Scott Sorensen were late scratchings before the win over Gold Coast but only To’o is right to play this weekend.
Jack Cogger will again start at hooker with Kenny out.
Eels: 1. Clint Gutherson 2. Maika Sivo 3. Will Penisini 4. Bailey Simonsson 5. Sean Russell 6. Daejarn Asi 7. Dylan Brown 8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 9. Joey Lussick 10. Junior Paulo 11. Ryan Matterson 12. Bryce Cartwright 13. J’maine Hopgood 14. Luca Moretti 15. Shaun Lane 16. Wiremu Greig 17. Joe Ofahengaue 18. Makahesi Makatoa 19. Brendan Hands 20. Waqa Blake 21. Ky Rodwell 22. Ofahiki Ogden
Andrew Davey is out again due to a head knock but fellow second-rower Shaun Lane will return from his elbow injury via the bench even though Parra’s finals hopes are dashed.
Odds: Warriors $1.14, Dragons $5.75 – odds via PlayUp
Warriors: 1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 2. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 3. Rocco Berry 4. Adam Pompey 5. Marcelo Montoya 6. Luke Metcalf 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Addin Fonua-Blake 9. Wayde Egan 10. Bunty Afoa 11. Josh Curran 12. Marata Niukore 13. Tohu Harris 14. Dylan Walker 15. Jackson Ford 16. Bayley Sironen 17. Freddy Lussick 18. Tom Ale 20. Taine Tuaupiki 21. Edward Kosi 22. TeMaire Martin 23. Kalani Going
Bunty Afoa evaded a ban despite being charged with dangerous contact in the win over Manly. Mitch Barnett (knee) and Jazz Tevaga (hamstring) are still out but classy playmaker Te Maire Martin has been named on the reserves as he looks to return from a broken leg suffered in April.
Dragons: 1. Tyrell Sloan 2. Mathew Feagai 3. Moses Suli 4. Zac Lomax 5. Mikaele Ravalawa 6. Talatau Amone 7. Ben Hunt 8. Francis Molo 9. Jacob Liddle 10. Blake Lawrie 11. Billy Burns 12. Dan Russell 13. Michael Molo 14. Connor Muhleisen 15. Ryan Couchman 16. Ben Murdoch-Masila 17. Zane Musgrove 18. Toby Couchman 19. Jayden Sullivan 20. Max Feagai 21. Sione Finau 22. Jaiyden Hunt
Zac Lomax (shoulder) is OK this week after he was ruled out late against Melbourne.
Odds: Dolphins $3.35, Cowboys $1.33 – odds via PlayUp
Dolphins: 1. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow 2. Jamayne Isaako 3. Tesi Niu 4. Robert Jennings 5. Jack Bostock 6. Kodi Nikorima 7. Sean O’Sullivan 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Harrison Graham 10. Mark Nicholls 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Connelly Lemuelu 13. Kenny Bromwich 14. Jarrod Wallace 15. Josh Kerr 16. Euan Aitken 17. Herman Ese’ese 18. JJ Collins 19. Isaiya Katoa 20. Valynce Te Whare 21. Anthony Milford 22. Kurt Donoghoe
Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, Connelly Lemuelu and Kenny Bromwich are available again after concussion absences. The Dolphins have ditched the experiment of playing Tabuai-Fidow at centre and have moved him back to his favourite position of fullback.
Kodi Nikorima has been switched back to five-eighth.
Cowboys: 1. Scott Drinkwater 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Zac Laybutt 4. Peta Hiku 5. Murray Taulagi 6. Tom Dearden 7. Chad Townsend 8. Jordan McLean 9. Reece Robson 10. Jason Taumalolo 11. Luciano Leilua 12. Heilum Luki 13. Reuben Cotter 14. Jake Granville 15. Coen Hess 16. Griffin Neame 17. Kulikefu Finefeuiaki 18. Jamayne Taunoa-Brown 19. Brendan Elliot 20. James Tamou 21. Robert Derby 22. Jack Gosiewski
Young winger Semi Valemei is free to play after he was only fined for a high tackle in the loss to Cronulla but he has been ruled out with a knee complaint.
Jeremiah Nanai injured his other shoulder after making a comeback from an AC joint problem against the Sharks.
Odds: Storm $1.13, Titans $6 – odds via PlayUp
Storm: 1. Nick Meaney 2. William Warbrick 3. Marion Seve 4. Young Tonumaipea 5. Xavier Coates 6. Cameron Munster 7. Jahrome Hughes 8. Tui Kamikamica 9. Harry Grant 10. Christian Welch 11. Trent Loiero 12. Eliesa Katoa 13. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 14. Bronson Garlick 15. Tom Eisenhuth 16. Tepai Moeroa 17. Alec MacDonald 18. Reimis Smith 19. Ryan Papenhuyzen 20. Chris Lewis 21. Tariq Sims 22. Tyran Wishart
Ryan Papenhuyzen is now three games back in his return from a fractured kneecap in the Queensland Cup and although Craig Bellamy said after the win over the Dragons that he was in no rush to bring him back into the NRL side, the star fullback has been named on the extended bench.
With Josh King out for the first time this season, Nelson Asofa-Solomona switches to lock.
Titans: 1. AJ Brimson 2. Alofiana Khan-Pereira 3. Brian Kelly 4. Aaron Schoupp 5. Jojo Fifita 6. Kieran Foran 7. Thomas Weaver 8. Moeaki Fotuaika 9. Chris Randall 10. Jaimin Jolliffe 11. David Fifita 12. Klese Haas 13. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui 14. Kruise Leeming 15. Isaac Liu 16. Joe Stimson 17. Jacob Alick 18. Keano Kini 19. Jo Vuna 20. Tony Francis 21. Iszac Fa’asumaleaui 22. Josiah Pahulu
Phillip Sami (foot) and Jayden Campbell (knee) are out for the year so AJ Brimson will stay at fullback because Kieran Foran (sternum) is right to return in the halves alongside second-gamer Tom Weaver.
Odds: Roosters $1.18, Tigers $4.85 – odds via PlayUp
Roosters: 1. Joey Manu 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Billy Smith 4. Corey Allan 5. Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii 6. Luke Keary 7. Sam Walker 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9. Brandon Smith 10. Lindsay Collins 11. Siua Wong 12. Nat Butcher 13. Victor Radley 14. Sandon Smith 15. Fletcher Baker 16. Terrell May 17. Angus Crichton 18. Drew Hutchison 19. Egan Butcher 20. Zach Dockar-Clay 21. Fetalaiga Pauga 22. Naufahu Whyte
James Tedesco (concussion) will sit this one out while Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (neck) is right to return. Joey Manu will slot in at fullback.
Sam Walker returns to the starting side after he was the standby bench player last weekend, switching with Drew Hutchison.
Tigers: 1. Jahream Bula 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Triston Reilly 4. Asu Kepaoa 5. Junior Tupou 6. Daine Laurie 7. Will Smith 8. Stefano Utoikamanu 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. David Klemmer 11. Isaiah Papali’i 12. John Bateman 13. Fonua Pole 14. Justin Matamua 15. Shawn Blore 16. Alex Twal 17. Alex Seyfarth 18. Aitasi James 19. Brandon Wakeham 20. Josh Feledy 21. Kit Laulilii 22. Tommy Talau
With Luke Brooks sidelined with a calf complaint, Will Smith has been brought in at halfback. Api Koroisau switches from halfback back to hooker with Jake Simpkin sidelined due to a concussion.
Odds: Raiders $3, Broncos $1.39 – odds via PlayUp
Raiders: 1. Jordan Rapana 2. Albert Hopoate 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Matthew Timoko 5. Nick Cotric 6. Matt Frawley 7. Jamal Fogarty 8. Josh Papali’i 9. Zac Woolford 10. Joseph Tapine 11. Hudson Young 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Corey Horsburgh 14. Tom Starling 15. Emre Guler 16. James Schiller 17. Ata Mariota 18. Pasami Saulo 19. Brad Morkos 20. Jack Wighton 21. Sebastian Kris 22. Adrian Trevilyan
Jordan Rapana paid a $3000 fine for dangerous contact while Jack Wighton is set to return from a hamstring strain, replacing Matt Frawley, but the former Dally M Medal winner has been named in the reserves along with Seb Kris, who is also trying to return from the same injury.
Corey Horsburgh (concussion) and winger Albert Hopoate (rib) are doubtful after copping knocks in the win over Canterbury on Sunday.
Broncos: 1. Reece Walsh 2. Corey Oates 3. Kotoni Staggs 4. Herbie Farnworth 5. Selwyn Cobbo 6. Ezra Mam 7. Jock Madden 8. Thomas Flegler 9. Billy Walters 10. Payne Haas 11. Kurt Capewell 12. Jordan Riki 13. Patrick Carrigan 14. Tyson Smoothy 15. Brendan Piakura 16. Kobe Hetherington 17. Corey Jensen 18. Jesse Arthars 19. Keenan Palasia 20. Martin Taupau 21. Tristan Sailor 22. Deine Mariner
Adam Reynolds (calf) will be replaced by Jock Madden at halfback as Brisbane make their return from their bye week.
Winger Corey Oates (knee) returns to play his 200th game while Martin Taupau is available again after his leg-raising ban but has been named in the reserves.
Odds: Bulldogs $2.85, Sea Eagles $1.43 – odds via PlayUp
Bulldogs: 1. Jake Averillo 2. Blake Wilson 3. Jacob Kiraz 4. Braidon Burns 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Matt Burton 7. Toby Sexton 8. Max King 9. Reed Mahoney 10. Liam Knight 11. Viliame Kikau 12. Corey Waddell 13. Harrison Edwards 14. Kyle Flanagan 15. Luke Thompson 16. Kurtis Morrin 17. Tevita Pangai jnr 19. Jayden Okunbor 20. Samuel Hughes 21. Jeral Skelton 22. Hayze Perham 23. Joseph O’Neill
Jacob Preston has one more week to serve for his hip-drop ban while Matt Burton is free to play after only being fined for dangerous contact in the loss to Canberra.
Raymond Faitala-Mariner (hamstring) won’t be seen again this year on field while Ryan Sutton (neck) won’t suit up against Manly.
Sea Eagles: 1. Tolu Koula 2. Jason Saab 3. Brad Parker 4. Morgan Harper 5. Ray Tuaimalo-Vaega 6. Jakob Arthur 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Toafofoa Sipley 9. Lachlan Croker 10. Sean Keppie 11. Haumole Olakau’atu 12. Ben Trbojevic 13. Jake Trbojevic 14. Gordon Chan Kum Tong 15. Kelma Tuilagi 16. Aaron Woods 17. Ethan Bullemor Reserves: 18. Josh Schuster 19. Dean Matterson 20. Ben Condon 21. Samuela Fainu 22. Reuben Garrick
Reuben Garrick is likely to be out with a fracture in his back after he was on the end of a controversial tackle from Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad late in the loss to the Warriors. Tolu Koula is the new fullback. Garrick has been named in jersey No.22 and will fight to recover but is a long shot to face the Bulldogs.
Brad Parker and Ben Trbojevic are OK to return after missing last week due to head knocks.
Josh Schuster has been dropped to the standby reserve after a lacklustre effort against the Warriors with Gordon Chan Kum Tong replacing him on the interchange.
Odds: Knights $1.70, Sharks $2.15 – odds via PlayUp
Knights: 1. Kalyn Ponga 2. Dominic Young 3. Dane Gagai 4. Bradman Best 5. Greg Marzhew 6. Tyson Gamble 7. Jackson Hastings 8. Jacob Saifiti 9. Phoenix Crossland 10. Leo Thompson 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Lachlan Fitzgibbon 13. Adam Elliott 14. Kurt Mann 15. Daniel Saifiti 16. Jack Hetherington 17. Mathew Croker 18. Dylan Lucas 19. Enari Tuala 20. Adam Clune 21. Brodie Jones 22. Fa’amanu Brown
Jackson Hastings is a chance of playing this weekend after missing the win over Souths due to his syndesmosis injury although Adam Clune could again deputise for him.
Sharks: 1. Connor Tracey 2. Sione Katoa 3. Jesse Ramien 4. Siosifa Talakai 5. Ronaldo Mulitalo 17. Matt Moylan 6. Braydon Trindall
7. Nicho Hynes 8. Toby Rudolf 9. Blayke Brailey 10. Braden Hamlin-Uele 11. Briton Nikora 12. Wade Graham 13. Cameron McInnes 14. Jack Williams 15. Royce Hunt 16. Thomas Hazelton 18. Jesse Colquhoun 19. Mawene Hiroti 20. Oregon Kaufusi 21. Kayal Iro 22. Jayden Berrell
Front-rower Oregon Kaufusi (finger) is a chance to return, named in the reserves, but Craig Fitzgibbon has been forced to bring Matt Moylan into the halves after Nicho Hynes went down with a thigh strain at training.
Bye – Rabbitohs