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The Roar


NRL Round 1 Team Lists: Roosters star out, Bunnies get big boost, Munster doubtful, Sivo banned

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2nd March, 2024
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The Roosters have lost Billy Smith to a minor hamstring injury for the Broncos clash on Sunday in Las Vegas.

Joseph Suaalii will move to centre, with Fetalaiga ‘Junior’ Pauga to come in on the wing.

Angus Crichton‘s future at the Sydney Roosters becoming increasingly clouded after the Test forward was left out of Trent Robinson‘s side for their round-one clash 

Crichton, who is off contract at the end of 2024, was named in the Roosters’ extended squad on Tuesday and is unlikely to see game time in Sin City. 

Angus Crichton representing Australia at the 2022 Rugby League World Cup. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

Siua Wong and Sitili Tupouniua have taken the starting backrow spots while Nat Butcher fills out a bench which boasts Terrell May, Sandon Smith and Naufahu Whyte.

Spencer Leniu has been named to start on Roosters debut – confirming that he should see far more minutes per game than he did at the Panthers – with Jared Waerea-Hargreaves suspended.

The Broncos have confirmed Deine Mariner as their new winger, with Selwyn Cobbo shifting to centre to replace the departed Herbie Farnworth. Their injury worry, Brendan Piakura (knee), is named to start.


Cody Walker has been declared fit to play in South Sydney’s historic season-opening clash against Manly in Las Vegas.

Souths coach Jason Demetriou confirmed the playmaker had overcome the calf injury that ruled him out of the All Stars match last month.

“He’s a world-class player. Really happy that he was able to get the training done in San Diego,” Demetriou said. 

“That was important for his prep, to be able to have a full week of training going into round one. 

“It’s got him in a good headspace and the team will benefit from that for sure.”

(Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)[/caption]

The dual premiership-winning hooker promptly deleted the post and uploaded a second image that read “Happy New Year guys. Enjoy and ignore trolls who grabbed my phone.”

Soni Luke, Penrith’s back-up hooker last season, is the likeliest candidate to start against the Storm, with rookie Luke Sommerton another option.

Parramatta will be without Maika Sivo to start the NRL season, with the Eels winger facing a four-game ban.

The Fijian flyer was hit with a grade-two careless high-tackle charge following their trial win over the Gold Coast Titans on Sunday.


Owing to his prior misdemeanours, the challenge on AJ Brimson means Sivo will be sidelined for three matches with his early guilty plea.

If he had opted to fight it at the judiciary, he would have risked being handed an additional one-game suspension.

Star Dolphins centre Herbie Farnworth has limped off the training field on Tuesday with a knee injury.

The extent of the setback is yet to be determined but the England international is not a player they can afford to be without in the wake of losing Queensland forward Tom Gilbert to a season-ending knee injury.

The Dolphins have told AAP that Farnworth sustained “a bump” during training and did not return and do not believe it is a ligament injury at this stage.

Cowboys forward Coen Hess is also out for the year after tearing his ACL in Sunday’s trial win over Canberra.

Canberra youngster Ethan Strange will be clear to play in round one, escaping with a $1000 fine for a dangerous throw on North Queensland prop Tom Mikaele.


Sharks half Nicho Hynes (thigh) should be fine for Round 1 while St George Illawarra received good news on forwards Jacob Liddle and Blake Lawrie, who failed to finish their trial win over Wests Tigers. Both are aiming to play round one against Gold Coast after Lawrie suffered rib cartilage damage and Liddle picked up a low-grade hamstring injury.

Newcastle vs Canberra at McDonald Jones Stadium: 8pm, Thursday March 7

Odds: Knights $1.40, Raiders $3 – odds via PlayUp

Knights: Jayden Brailey missed the opening trial with a minor hamstring complaint as he makes a comeback from another serious knee injury and was rested on the weekend.

Knights coach Adam O’Brien is going into the season with a more settled squad than recent years but needs to decide early whether he will stick with the halves which took his team to the finals in Tyson Gamble and Jackson Hastings or revamp his playmakers with fresh blood in English recruit Will Pryce or Jack Cogger. 

Dominic Young’s departure to the Roosters leaves a big hole on the flank – his spot is likely to go to experienced campaigner Enari Tuala although Tom Jenkins scored five tries in his six appearances for Penrith so he could be the better long-term candidate.

Cogger was strong in his Knights return off the bench in the trial win over Cronulla. Young centre Krystian Mapapalangi suffered a concussion against the Sharks and will likely sit out the Storm trial in Fiji this weekend.


Round 1 predicted team

1 Kalyn Ponga
2 Enari Tuala
3 Dane Gagai
4 Bradman Best
5 Greg Marzhew
6 Tyson Gamble
7 Jackson Hastings
8 Daniel Saifiti
9 Jayden Brailey
10 Jacob Saifiti
11 Tyson Frizell
12 Kai Pearce-Paul
13 Adam Elliott
14 Phoenix Crossland
15 Jed Cartwright
16 Jack Hetherington
17 Leo Thompson

Other squad members: Jack Cogger, David Armstrong, Dylan Lucas, Riley Jones, Paul Bryan, Myles Martin, Mathew Croker, Will Pryce, Thomas Jenkins, Ryan Rivett, Krystian Mapapalangi, Brodie Jones. 

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - JULY 29: Kalyn Ponga of the Knights in action during the round 22 NRL match between Canberra Raiders and Newcastle Knights at GIO Stadium on July 29, 2023 in Canberra, Australia. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

(Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

Raiders: Jack Wighton has departed after holding a mortgage on this team’s No.6 jersey for a long time. Jarrod Croker has retired and Corey Harawira-Naera’s unlikely to suit up at NRL level this season after his on-field seizure last year.

Rising star Ethan Strange and Manly recruit Kaeo Weekes are set to fight out Wighton’s old five-eighth spot. Both had their moments in Sunday’s trial loss to the Cowboys.

Zac Woolford (concussion) should be right for Round 1.


Round 1 predicted team

1 Jordan Rapana
2 Xavier Savage
3 James Schiller
4 Matt Timoko
5 Albert Hopoate
6 Ethan Strange
7 Jamal Fogarty
8 Josh Papalii
9 Zac Woolford
10 Joseph Tapine
11 Hudson Young
12 Elliott Whitehead
13 Emre Guler
14 Tom Starling
15 Morgan Smithies
16 Pasami Saulo
17 Ata Mariota

Other squad members: Seb Kris, Corey Horsburgh (suspended), Nick Cotric, Trey Mooney, Danny Levi, Kaeo Weekes, Chevy Stewart, Peter Hola, Hohepa Puru, Simi Sasagi, Corey Harawira-Naera

NZ Warriors vs Cronulla at Go Media Stadium: 6pm, Friday March 8

Odds: Warriors $1.55, Sharks $2.45 – odds via PlayUp

Warriors: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck has slotted in well at centre in the pre-season and halfback Shaun Johnson made a return from a calf injury.

Kurt Capewell has crossed the ditch to add starch to the pack while utility back Chanel Harris-Tavita is a real Swiss Army knife of a player who won’t walk into the first 13 but adds experience and depth to multiple positions.


Uncapped Warriors rookie Zyon Maiu’u was sent off for his high tackle that floored Wests Tigers centre Declan Casey and copped a four-game ban with a guilty plea.

Round 1 predicted team

1 Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad
2 Marcelo Montoya
3 Roger Tuisvasa-Sheck
4 Rocco Berry
5 Dallin Watene-Zelezniak
6 Luke Metcalf
7 Shaun Johnson
8 Addin Fonua-Blake
9 Wayde Egan
10 Bunty Afoa
11 Kurt Capewell
12 Marata Niukore
13 Tohu Harris
14 Chanel Harris-Tavita
15 Jackson Ford
16 Dylan Walker
17 Tom Ale

Other squad members: Adam Pompey, Jazz Tevaga, Ali Leiataua, Demetric Sifakula, Edward Kosi, Freddy Lussick, Jacob Laban, Te Maire Martin, Mitch Barnett, Zyon Maiu’u, Taine Tuaupiki

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (Photo by Tony Feder/Getty Images)

Sharks: Braydon Trindall showed the benefits from having a full summer to work on his playmaking combination with Hynes in his player of the match performance for the Indigenous All Stars.

Hynes was rested for last Friday’s win over Canterbury with a thigh problem but will be right for Round 1.


Round 1 predicted team

1 Will Kennedy
2 Sione Katoa
3 Jesse Ramien
4 Siosifa Talakai
5 Ronaldo Mulitalo
6 Braydon Trindall
7 Nicho Hynes
8 Braden Hamlin-Uele
9 Blayke Brailey
10 Toby Rudolf
11 Briton Nikora
12 Teig Wilton
13 Dale Finucane
14 Cameron McInnes
15 Royce Hunt
16 Jack Williams
17 Oregon Kaufusi

Other squad members: Daniel Atkinson, Jayden Berrell, Kade Dykes, Tom Hazelton, Siteni Taukamo, Sam Stonestreet, Niwhai Puru, Michael Gabrael, Kayal Iro, Jesse Colquhoun, Billy Burns.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 31: Ryan Papenhuyzen of the Storm passes the ball during the round 27 NRL match between the Brisbane Broncos and Melbourne Storm at Suncorp Stadium on August 31, 2023 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Ryan Papenhuyzen. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Melbourne vs Penrith at AAMI Park: 8.05pm, Friday March 8

Odds: Storm $2.15, Panthers $1.70 – odds via PlayUp

Storm: Ryan Papenhuyzen is pushing hard to play in Round 1 with impressive trial form but coach Craig Bellamy may be more cautious with the fullback in his attempt to return from a broken leg.


When Papi’s fit, Nick Meaney is set to switch to centre to replace Justin Olam. 

Ex-Tigers forward Shawn Blore has bolstered the pack as part of the swap deal which sent Olam to Wests.

Round 1 predicted team

1 Ryan Papenhuyzen
2 Xavier Coates
3 Reimis Smith
4 Nick Meaney
5 Will Warbrick
6 Cameron Munster
7 Jahrome Hughes
8 Tui Kamikamica
9 Harry Grant
10 Christian Welch
11 Trent Loiero
12 Eliesa Katoa
13 Josh King
14 Tyran Wishart
15 Nelson Asofa-Solomona
16 Tepai Moeroa
17 Aaron Pene

Other squad members: Bronson Garlick, Chris Lewis, Alec MacDonald, Marion Seve, Shawn Blore, Jonah Pezet, Joe Chan, Jack Howarth, Dean Ieremia, Young Tonumaipea.

Panthers: Jarome Luai is no certainty to be right for the start of the season due to the shoulder injury he carried into last year’s Grand Final which ruled him out of the World Club Challenge final loss to Wigan.

Local junior Jack Cole is considered the frontrunner for the five-eighth role if Luai is out against the Storm.


Mitch Kenny will be suspended for the first game of Penrith’s premiership defence after the NRL finalised its investigation into his Boxing Day social media post.

Kenny was handed a breach notice by the NRL earlier this month after posting to his Instagram story on December 27 that a “couple of Boxing Day lines have got me in troubleeee (sic)”.

Soni Luke, Penrith’s back-up hooker last season, is the likeliest candidate to start against the Storm, with rookie Luke Sommerton another option.

Taylan May has won the race to replace Stephen Crichton at centre while winger Sunia Turuva suffered a knee injury against Wigan but is confident of being fit for Round 1.

Round 1 predicted team

1 Dylan Edwards
2 Sunia Turuva
3 Izack Tago
4 Taylan May
5 Brian To’o
6 Jarome Luai
7 Nathan Cleary
8 James Fisher-Harris
9 Soni Luke
10 Moses Leota
11 Scott Sorensen
12 Liam Martin
13 Isaah Yeo
14 Tyrone Peachey
15 Lindsay Smith
16 Matt Eisenhuth
17 Luke Garner

Other squad members: Mitch Kenny (suspended), Brad Schneider, Daine Laurie, Harrison Hassett, Paul Alamoti, Mavrik Geyer, Liam Henry, Jesse McLean, Jack Cole, Ativalu Lisati. 


Parramatta vs Canterbury at CommBank Stadium: 5.30pm, Saturday March 9

Odds: Eels $1.48, Bulldogs $2.65 – odds via PlayUp

Eels: Ryan Matterson (back) and Bailey Simonsson (hamstring) failed to finish Sunday’s trial win over the Titans. Matterson was more of a precaution but Simonsson could be under a cloud for Round 1.

Fijian winger Maika Sivo has copped a three-game ban for a hit on AJ Brimson in the second trial. Haze Dunster and Manly recruit Morgan Harper are likely replacements out wide.

Round 1 predicted team

1 Clint Gutherson
2 Haze Dunster
3 Will Penisini
4 Bailey Simonsson
5 Sean Russell
6 Dylan Brown
7 Mitchell Moses
8 Junior Paulo
9 Joey Lussick
10 Reagan Campbell-Gillard
11 Shaun Lane
12 Bryce Cartwright
13 J’maine Hopgood
14 Brendan Hands
15 Kelma Tuilagi
16 Ryan Matterson
17 Joe Ofahengaue


Other squad members: Maika Sivo (suspended), Daejarn Asi, Makahesi Makatoa, Zac Cini, Wiremu Greig, Toni Mataele, Tevita Taumoepenu, Ofahiki Ogden, Matt Doorey, Morgan Harper, Ky Rodwell, Jirah Momoisea.

Bulldogs: Panthers star Stephen Crichton looks like he will start in the centres even though he switched to Canterbury looking to nail down the fullback spot.

Former Sharks young gun Bronson Xerri will resurrect his career as the other centre.

Blake Taaffe struggled at fullback in the trial loss to Cronulla while Drew Hutchison did not have much impact at halfback.

Round 1 predicted team

1 Blake Taaffe
2 Blake Wilson
3 Bronson Xerri
4 Stephen Crichton
5 Josh Addo-Carr
6 Matt Burton
7 Drew Hutchison
8 Poasa Faamausili
9 Reed Mahoney
10 Max King
11 Viliame Kikau
12 Jacob Preston
13 Jaeman Salmon
14 Connor Tracey
15 Sam Hughes
16 Kurt Mann
17 Josh Curran

Other squad members: Karl Oloapu (injured), Liam Knight, Bailey Biondi-Odo, Kitione Kautoga, Jordan Samrani, Jacob Kiraz, Jeral Skelton, Ryan Sutton, Jake Turpin, Hayze Perham, Chris Patolo, Kurtis Morrin, Zac Montgomery, Toby Sexton.


Gold Coast vs St George Illawarra at Cbus Super Stadium: 5.30pm, Saturday March 8

Odds: Titans $1.45, Dragons $2.75 – odds via PlayUp

Titans: David Fifita is out of the start of the season due to surgery for a pectoral tear suffered late last year while Jayden Campbell (knee) will also not be back until Round 3.

Kieran Foran was rested from the trials and will partner Tanah Boyd in the halves. AJ Brimson will stick to centre with Keano Kini at fullback for Campbell.

Klese Haas and Jacob Alick are pushing for a back-row position to partner Beau Fermor, who is returning from an ACL tear that kept him out of the entire 2023 season.

Round 1 predicted team

1 Keano Kini
2 Alofiana Khan-Pereira
3 Brian Kelly
4 AJ Brimson
5 Phillip Sami
6 Kieran Foran
7 Tanah Boyd
8 Moeaki Fotuaika
9 Sam Verrills
10 Isaac Liu
11 Joe Stimson
12 Beau Fermor
13 Tino Fa’asuamaleaui
14 Chris Randall
15 Jaimin Jolliffe
16 Klese Haas
17 Keenan Palasia


Other squad members: David Fifita, Jayden Campbell (injured), Harley Smith-Shields, Jojo Fifita, Iszac Fa’asuamaleaui, Erin Clark, Jacob Alick, Aaron Schoupp, Josiah Pahulu, Ken Maumolo, Ryan Foran, Tom Weaver, Tony Francis

MUDGEE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 24: Kyle Flanagan of the Dragons passes during the NRL Pre-season challenge match between St George Illawarra Dragons and Wests Tigers at Glen Willow Sporting Complex on February 24, 2024 in Mudgee, Australia. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)

Kyle Flanagan passes in Mudgee. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)

Dragons: Kyle Flanagan will start at five-eighth following Junior Amone being stood down due to being found guilty of assault. Rabbitohs forward Hame Sele, Canterbury second-rower Raymond Faitala-Mariner and Storm veteran Tom Eisenhuth will bolster the pack, as will late acquisition Luciano Leilua from the Cowboys.  

Jack Bird returns to centre from the pack, pushing Zac Lomax to the wing.

St George Illawarra forwards Jacob Liddle and Blake Lawrie, failed to finish their trial win over Wests Tigers. Both are aiming to play round one against Gold Coast after Lawrie suffered rib cartilage damage and Liddle picked up a low-grade hamstring injury.

Round 1 predicted team

1 Tyrell Sloan
2 Zac Lomax
3 Moses Suli
4 Jack Bird
5 Mikaele Ravalawa
6 Kyle Flanagan
7 Ben Hunt
8 Blake Lawrie
9 Jacob Liddle
10 Francis Molo
11 Raymond Faitala-Mariner
12 Jaydn Su’A
13 Jack de Belin
14 Jesse Marschke
15 Luciano Leilua
16 Tom Eisenhuth
17 Hame Sele 


Other squad members: Corey Allan (injured – torn ACL), Cody Ramsey (unavailable due to illness), Toby Couchman, Dan Russell, Michael Molo, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Mat Feagai, Paul Turner, Ryan Couchman, Max Feagai, Viliami Fifita, Sione Finau, Savelio Tamale, Alec Tuitavake. 

Dolphins vs North Queensland at Suncorp Stadium: 4.05pm, Sunday March 10

Odds: Dolphins $2.50, Cowboys $1.53 – odds via PlayUp

Dolphins: The Dolphins’ weak point in 2023 was their centres, and they have immediately upgraded both with the arrival of Broncos star Herbie Farnworth and Canterbury’s Jake Averillo.

Farnworth sent a scare through the camp when he limped off at training with a knee injury on Tuesday.

Tom Flegler boosts the pack but the Dolphins have copped a major blow with Tom Gilbert suffering an ACL tear.

Sean O’Sullivan was concussed in the trial against the Warriors.


Round 1 predicted team

1 Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow
2 Jamayne Isaako
3 Herbie Farnworth
4 Jake Averillo
5 Tesi Niu
6 Isaiya Katoa
7 Sean O’Sullivan
8 Jesse Bromwich
9 Jeremy Marshall-King
10 Tom Flegler
11 Felise Kaufusi
12 Connolly Lemuelu
13 Kenny Bromwich
14 Kodi Nikorima
15 Josh Kerr
16 Mark Nicholls
17 Jarrod Wallace

Other squad members: Tom Gilbert (injured), Valynce Te Whare, Max Plath, Ray Stone, Jack Bostock, Edrick Lee, Euan Aitken, Harrison Graham, Mason Teague, Robert Jennings, Oryn Keeley, Anthony Milford

Cowboys: Luciano Leilua has departed for the Dragons and Coen Hess is out for the season with a knee injury but the Cowboys have plenty of forward depth.

Zac Laybutt looks set to get the centre berth left vacant by Peta Hiku’s switch to the Super League.

Reuben Cotter sat out All-Stars due to a few recent concussions but is not considered in doubt for Round 1.

Jake Clifford has returned to his original club after stints at Newcastle and the Super League, potentially with a view to the former junior representative star taking over from Chad Townsend as the chief on-field organiser.


Round 1 predicted team

1 Scott Drinkwater
2 Murray Taulagi
3 Zac Laybutt
4 Valentine Holmes
5 Kyle Feldt
6 Tom Dearden
7 Chad Townsend
8 Jordan McLean
9 Reece Robson
10 Jason Taumalolo
11 Jeremiah Nanai
12 Heilum Luki
13 Reuben Cotter
14 Jake Granville
15 Thomas Mikaele
16 Griffin Neame
17 Kulikefu Finefeuiaki

Other squad members: Coen Hess (injured), Jake Clifford, Jack Gosiewski, Viliami Vailea, Tom Chester, Thomas Duffy, Sam McIntyre, Robert Derby, Jamayne Taunoa-Brown, D’Jazirhae Pua’avase, Semi Valemei. 

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - FEBRUARY 09: West Tigers assistant coach Benji Marshall looks on ahead of the NRL trial match between New Zealand Warriors and Wests Tigers at Mt Smart Stadium on February 09, 2023 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Benji Marshall. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Bye – Wests Tigers

Tigers: Former Raiders playmaker Aiden Sezer was brilliant in his first match at the club and looks set to partner Jayden Sullivan in the halves.

Justin Olam gives the young team a much-needed jolt of experience and impact out wide while David Nofoaluma is no longer at the club after his controversial abrupt exit midway through the off-season after a clash with new coach Benji Marshall.


Round 2 predicted team

1 Jahream Bula
2 Junior Tupou
3 Starford To’a
4 Justin Olam
5 Charlie Staines
6 Jayden Sullivan
7 Aidan Sezer
8 David Klemmer
9 Api Koroisau
10 Stefano Utoikamanu
11 Isaiah Papali’i
12 John Bateman
13 Fonua Pole
14 Jake Simpkin
15 Asu Kepaoa
16 Alex Twal
17 Alex Seyfarth

Other squad members: Adam Doueihi (injured), Brent Naden, David Nofoaluma, Josh Feledy, Lachlan Galvin, Latu Fainu, Solomon Alaimalo, Brandon Tumeth, Justin Matamua, Kit Laulili, Samuela Fainu, Tallyn Da Silva, Sione Fainu, Jordan Miller