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The Roar


Semi-finals Team Lists Late Mail: Storm reshuffle with another star ruled out, Johnson doubtful, Roosters depleted

14th September, 2023
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14th September, 2023
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Melbourne star Jahrome Hughes has been ruled out of the NRL semi-final against the Sydney Roosters in a major blow to the Storm’s hopes of avoiding a straight-sets exit.

The halfback did some running on Thursday away from the cameras but failed to train with the main group ahead of Friday night’s sudden-death blockbuster at AAMI Park.

The Storm confirmed on Thursday night that Hughes would miss the match through a calf injury, with Tyran Wishart to fill in at halfback.

“(Hughes) done a little bit of running this morning, but we’ll just see how he pulls up,” Storm coach Craig Bellamy said earlier on Thursday. “To be honest, he’s probably unlikely, but we’ll just see how he pulls up this afternoon after the run.”

The Storm have already had to bring in replacements for Ryan Papenhuyzen (broken ankle), Xavier Coates (syndesmosis) and Young Tonumaipea (concussion) this week with Justin Olam and Reimis Smith starting in the backs and Alec Macdonald bolstering the bench. 

Once rated among the best centres in the game, Olam fell out of favour after the upset defeat to the Knights in round 21. 

His only first-grade game since came when the Storm rested the majority of their best 17 in the week before the finals.


The Roosters’ backline woes have continued with centre Joseph Manu ruled out of their trip to Melbourne, joining Joseph Suaalii and Billy Smith on the sidelines.

Suaalii copped a head knock in the win over Cronulla and was stood down under the 11-day concussion protocols while Smith soldiered on in the game, limiting the chaos in an already-depleted backline.

“For him to play through a broken jaw, is unbelievable,” captain James Tedesco said. “He still took hit-ups and play ones. He made some big tackles as well, some of the plays he came up with were massive.

“There was no complaining from him. There was no ‘I want to come off or it’s not feeling great’. He just did what he had to do so. From our point of view, it’s one of the bravest we’ve seen for sure.”

Corey Allan, Paul Momirovski and Jaxson Paulo have been called up by Trent Robinson.

One player who is in is half Sam Walker, who has been fined $1000 for a high tackle on Cronulla’s Braydon Trindall but not suspended.

Coach Andrew Webster rates injured halfback Shaun Johnson a better chance of playing in the Warriors’ must-win semi-final in Auckland against the Knights than missing out after he sat out the loss to Penrith with a calf strain.


But the coach will give the final say to the resurgent playmaker himself, provided he can make it through the final training session on Friday.

“He trained really well yesterday,” Webster said. The Warriors rested Johnson from Thursday’s session to avoid overworking him but he will return to the field for Friday’s captain’s run, which will go a long way to sealing his selection fate.

“If he can’t physically do it, he can’t play,” Webster said. “At this stage, all signs are that he will physically be able to do it.”

Warriors skipper Tohu Harris ($1000 for a crusher tackle) is free to play after only being fined for an incident on Panthers forward Luke Garner.

Jackson Hastings is out of Newcastle’s side after aggravating his ankle injury in Sunday’s win over Canberra. Coach Adam O’Brien brought in journeyman Adam Clune to fill the void.

The Knights also have second-rower Lachlan Fitzgibbon (shoulder) out after he had a recurrence of his ongoing injury against Canberra.


Week 2 Finals Teams

Semi-Final: Friday, September 15, 7.50pm (EST), AAMI Park
Melbourne Storm (3) vs Sydney Roosters (7)

Odds: Storm $1.27, Roosters $3.80 – odds via PlayUp

Storm: 1. Nick Meaney 2. William Warbrick 3. Marion Seve 4. Justin Olam 5. Reimis Smith 6. Cameron Munster 7. Jahrome Hughes 21. Tyran Wishart 8. Tui Kamikamica 9. Harry Grant 10. Christian Welch 11. Trent Loiero 12. Eliesa Katoa 13. Josh King 14. Alec MacDonald 15. Tom Eisenhuth 16. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 17. Tariq Sims 18. Grant Anderson 19. Bronson Garlick 20. Tepai Moeroa 22. Sua Faalogo

Veteran centre Young Tonumaipea (head knock) has joined bench utility Ryan Papenhuyzen (broken ankle) and winger Xavier Coates (syndesmosis) in being ruled out with Reimis Smith coming onto the wing and Justin Olam recalled at centre.

Alec Macdonald is the new face on the interchange while Jahrome Hughes is out with a calf injury with Tyran Wishart set to replace him in the halves.

Roosters: 1. James Tedesco 2. Fetalaiga Pauga 3. Paul Momirovski 4. Corey Allan 5. Jaxson Paulo 6. Luke Keary 7. Sam Walker 8. Fletcher Baker 9. Brandon Smith 10. Lindsay Collins 11. Siua Wong 12. Nat Butcher 13. Victor Radley 14. Sandon Smith 15. Egan Butcher 16. Terrell May 17. Angus Crichton 18. Drew Hutchison 19. Naufahu Whyte 20. Zach Dockar-Clay 21. Jake Turpin 22. Nathan Brown


Joseph Manu has not been picked after he failed to finish the win over Cronulla due to his troublesome hamstring while fellow centre Billy Smith (broken jaw) and winger Joseph Suaalii (concussion) had already been ruled out.

Corey Allan, Paul Momirovski and Jaxson Paulo have been recalled to the starting side.

Sam Walker escaped a ban for a high tackle and has been cleared of an ankle problem. 

Veteran winger Daniel Tupou’s knee injury means he will be out for at least another week. 

Semi-Final: Saturday, September 16, 4.05pm (EST), Go Media Stadium
New Zealand Warriors (4) vs Newcastle Knights (5)

Odds: Warriors $1.52, Knights $2.55 – odds via PlayUp


Warriors: 1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 2. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 3. Rocco Berry 4. Adam Pompey 5. Marcelo Montoya 6. Te Maire Martin 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Addin Fonua-Blake 9. Wayde Egan 10. Mitchell Barnett 11. Jackson Ford 12. Marata Niukore 13. Tohu Harris 14. Dylan Walker 15. Jazz Tevaga 16. Bayley Sironen 17. Josh Curran 18. Freddy Lussick 20. Taine Tuaupiki 21. Bunty Afoa 22. Tom Ale 23. Edward Kosi

Andrew Webster is confident he can send Dylan Walker back to the bench with star playmaker Shaun Johnson likely to return from the calf complaint he picked up at training last Wednesday. Johnson has been named in the No.7 jersey with Walker on the bench.

Webster did not include back-up halfback Ronald Volkman in his extended squad to face the Knights.

Given Luke Metcalf is still sidelined with a hamstring injury, the Warriors are likely to resort to last week’s halves pairing of Te Maire Martin and Walker if Johnson loses his race against the clock.

Tohu Harris has avoided suspension for a crusher tackle.

Knights: 1. Kalyn Ponga 2. Dominic Young 3. Dane Gagai 4. Bradman Best 5. Greg Marzhew 6. Tyson Gamble 7. Adam Clune 8. Jacob Saifiti 9. Phoenix Crossland 10. Leo Thompson 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Dylan Lucas 13. Adam Elliott 14. Kurt Mann 15. Daniel Saifiti 16. Jack Hetherington 17. Mathew Croker 18. Brodie Jones 19. Enari Tuala 20. Fa’amanu Brown 21. Lachlan Miller 22. Jack Johns

Adam Clune has replaced Jackson Hastings at halfback while Super League-bound forward Lachlan Fitzgibbon may have played his last game for the club due to a shoulder injury with Dylan Lucas replacing him in the pack.


with AAP