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The Roar


NRL Round 3 Team Lists: Bad news for painful Haas injury, Cook benched? O'Brien opens up on Hastings axe amid halves chaos

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21st March, 2024
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The Broncos will be without their two talismans after Payne Haas was scratched from their starting side ahead of Thursday night’s Grand Final rematch with the Panthers, joining Adam Reynolds on the sidelines.

The front-rower had been named in the team pending his successful completion of Brisbane’s captain’s run, but medics decided that his knee injury was too much and coach Kevin Walters opted for a cautious approach.

“Payne won’t be playing,” said the coach. “He still has some problems with his knee so we will get the doctor to look at it and see how we go. We always have our players’ welfare first and foremost. 

“We will start Fletcher Baker. Xavier Willison comes into the 17 and he is a terrific prospect. No one likes missing games and Payne is very competitive. 

“He feels he is letting the team down but he’s not. We will get his knee looked at properly and see what the issue is. He didn’t feel 100 per cent today. He is a key player for us so we will play him when he is fit.”

Haas could be out for up to six weeks after undergoing an arthroscopy next week.

DARWIN, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 21: Payne Haas of the Broncos takes on the defence during the round eight NRL match between Parramatta Eels and Brisbane Broncos at TIO Stadium on April 21, 2023 in Darwin, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Payne Haas. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Reynolds reaggravated an existing knee injury and will sit out several weeks. His deputy, Jock Madden, gets a first start for the year.


Halves are on the chopping block across the NRL with two coaches responding to 0-2 starts by axing their chief playmaker, with Lachlan Ilias out at South Sydney and Jackson Hastings ditched by Newcastle.

Ilias will be replaced by Dean Hawkins for their derby with the Roosters while Jack Cogger steps into the seven jumper at the Knights, who face Melbourne.

Knights coach Adam O’Brien played down rumours that Hastings had missed training with the club’s NSW Cup team after being dropped, insisting that there was no training organised and that he was told not to train by his coach.

“It was my call to give Jackson the rest of the day off,” said O’Brien. “There was no doubt he was disappointed about my decision (to drop him) but that’s because he has a high care about his team and his own performances.

“I could see the hurt in him which is natural. But at no stage did he refuse to do anything. I was the one who said to go home and get ready to train well on Wednesday. He agreed. I felt he needed a few hours to get his head around the decision.

“Our NSW Cup side didn’t even train on Tuesday. These situations are difficult for player and coach and I’m just disappointed what has been speculated about because it’s inaccurate and Jackson doesn’t deserve it.”

The Storm will also be without their main playmakers as Jahrome Hughes is out suspended after he took the Early Guilty Plea for coming into contact with referee Chris Butler against the Warriors on Friday night, while Cameron Munster has not recovered from injury in time.


It will be the first time since round 11 of 2021 the Storm have had neither Hughes nor Munster in their line-up.

On the other side of the Souths-Roosters clash, Luke Keary has, as expected, been replaced by Sandon Smith after the five-eighth suffered a concussion against Manly on Sunday.

Second-rower Angus Crichton has been recalled, with rising star Siua Wong culled to the reserves.

Former Canberra star Jack Wighton will make his Rabbitohs debut at left centre, while Jacob Host returns on an edge but there is a chance Damien Cook could be demoted to the bench with Siliva Havili promoted to start at hooker.

Finally, Benji Marshall has ditched his starting 7 from last week, Jayden Sullivan for veteran Aiden Sezer. The new boss hooked Sullivan midway through the second half and has confirmed that move by starting the ex-Leeds Rhino alongside rookie Lachlan Galvin.

CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - FEBRUARY 18: Aidan Sezer of the Wests Tigers dives over to score a try during the NRL Pre-season challenge match between New Zealand Warriors and Wests Tigers at Apollo Projects Stadium on February 18, 2024 in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

Aidan Sezer dives over to score a try in Christchurch. (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

Star off-season recruit Justin Olam will also debut as the Tigers take on the Sharks at Leichhardt Oval.

Suspended forward Briton Nikora has been replaced in the Cronulla second row by Jack Williams, with Billy Burns added to the bench.

Cogger’s elevation is not the only change for the Knights, with winger Greg Marzhew (wrist) set to miss up to a month, although Enari Tuala returns from injury to take his place.

Prop Payne Haas is set to play – but there will be no meeting of the big men in the Grand Final rematch with James Fisher-Harris unable to recover from a shoulder injury in time with Lindsay Smith taking his starting spot.

Both Parramatta and Manly have backline crises ahead of their meeting on Sunday, resulting in Blaize Talagi getting a debut and Raymond Tuimalo Vaega starting for the Sea Eagles.


Gold Coast get veteran five-eighth Keiran Foran back for their clash with Canterbury, after he missed their season opener against St George Illawarra.

The Bulldogs remain without flyer Josh Addo-Carr (shoulder), with Liam Knight named at prop in place of Poasa Faamausili (head knock).

And Canberra captain Elliott Whitehead will start in the team’s trip to New Zealand, relegating in-form back-rower Zac Hosking to the bench. Winger Nick Cotric has been recalled for Sebastian Kris (head knock).

Round 3 teams

Penrith vs Brisbane at BlueBet Stadium: 8pm, Thursday March 21

Odds: Panthers $1.28 Broncos $3.65 – odds via PlayUp


Panthers: 1. Dylan Edwards 2. Sunia Turuva 3. Izack Tago 4. Taylan May 5. Brian To’o 6. Jarome Luai 7. Nathan Cleary 8. Moses Leota 9. Mitch Kenny 10. Lindsay Smith 11. Scott Sorensen 12. Liam Martin 13. Isaah Yeo 14. Daine Laurie 15. Matt Eisenhuth 16. Liam Henry 17. Luke Garner 18. Soni Luke 19. Mavrik Geyer 20. Preston Riki 21. Paul Alamoti 22. Brad Scheider

Front-rower James Fisher-Harris is out, so Lindsay Smith comes in to start and Matt Eisenhuth goes to the bench. Daine Laurie replaces Soni Luke as the utility.

Broncos: 1. Reece Walsh 2. Jesse Arthars 3. Kotoni Staggs 4. Selwyn Cobbo 5. Deine Mariner 6. Ezra Mam 7. Jock Madden 8. Corey Jensen 9. Billy Walters 15. Fletcher Baker 10. Payne Haas 11. Brendan Piakura 12. Jordan Riki 13. Patrick Carrigan 14. Tyson Smoothy 18. Xavier Willison 16. Kobe Hetherington 17. Martin Taupau 19. Tristan Sailor 20. Delouise Hoeter 21. Corey Oates 22. Jaiyden Hunt

Adam Reynolds is out with a knee injury so Jock Madden will slot in at halfback. Payne Haas has been ruled out with a knee problem with Roosters recruit Fletcher Baker to make his starting debut for the Broncos and rookie prop Xavier Willison coming into the 17.

Warriors vs Raiders at Apollo Projects Stadium, Christchurch: 6pm, Friday March 22

Odds: Warriors $1.42, Raiders $2.85 – odds via PlayUp

Warriors: 1. Taine Tuaupiki 2. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 3. Rocco Berry 4. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 5. Marcelo Montoya 6. Luke Metcalf 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Addin Fonua-Blake 9. Wayde Egan 10. Mitchell Barnett 11. Jackson Ford 12. Kurt Capewell 13. Tohu Harris 14. Freddy Lussick 15. Tom Ale 16. Bunty Afoa 17. Dylan Walker 18. Adam Pompey 20. Jazz Tevaga 21. Te Maire Martin 22. Jacob Laban 23. Chanel Harris-Tavita


Wayde Egan is back on deck after an elbow issue and comes straight back into the side. Freddy Lussick goes back to the bench and Chanel Harris-Tavita to the reserves.

Raiders: 1. Jordan Rapana 2. Nick Cotric 3. Matthew Timoko 4. Albert Hopoate 5. Xavier Savage 6. Ethan Strange 7. Jamal Fogarty 8. Josh Papali’i 9. Danny Levi 10. Joseph Tapine 11. Hudson Young 12. Zac Hosking 13. Morgan Smithies 14. Tom Starling 15. Emre Guler 16. Zac Hosking 17. Pasami Saulo 18. James Schiller 19. Kaeo Weekes 20. Ata Mariota 21. Trey Mooney 22. Zac Woolford

Seb Kris left concussed last weekend and is out, forcing a backline reshuffle. Nick Cotric takes over on a wing with Albert Hopoate moved to the centre. Elliott Whitehead makes his first start of the year in the back row, with Zac Hosking dropping to the bench.


(Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Sydney vs South Sydney at Allianz Stadium: 8pm, Friday March 22

Odds: Roosters $1.65, Rabbitohs $2.25 – odds via PlayUp

Roosters: 1. James Tedesco 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii 4. Joseph Manu 5. Dominic Young 6. Sandon Smith 7. Sam Walker 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9. Brandon Smith 10. Lindsay Collins 11. Nat Butcher 12. Sitili Tupouniua 13. Victor Radley 14. Connor Watson 15. Naufahu Whyte 16. Terrell May 17. Angus Crichton 18. Michael Jennings 19. Egan Butcher. 20. Billy Smith 21. Zach Dockar-Clay 22. Siua Wong


Sandon Smith gets the 6 jumper with Luke Keary out, while Billy Smith fails to make the squad with Trent Robinson opting to keep his backline intact from the defeat to Manly.

He has, however, rung the changes in the forwards: Siua Wong is out entirely with Nat Butcher elevated to start and Angus Crichton to the bench. Connor Watson will wear the 14.

Rabbitohs: 1. Latrell Mitchell 2. Alex Johnston 3. Jack Wighton 4. Isaiah Tass 5. Taane Milne 6. Cody Walker 7. Dean Hawkins 8. Tevita Tatola 9. Damien Cook 10. Davvy Moale 11. Keaon Koloamatangi 12. Jacob Host 13. Cameron Murray 14. Siliva Havili 15. Tallis Duncan 16. Sean Keppie 17. Thomas Burgess 18. Michael Chee Kam 19. Lachlan Ilias 20. Shaq Mitchell 21. Peter Mamouzelos 22. Richard Kennar

Lachlan Ilias has been dropped for Dean Hawkins amid several changes for Souths. Isaiah Tass swaps sides to allow a club debut for Jack Wighton, while Sean Keppie and Davvy Moale have traded places in the middle rotation and Shaq Mitchell drops out altogether.

There is a chance Damien Cook could be demoted to the bench with Siliva Havili promoted to start at hooker

Canterbury vs Gold Coast at Belmore Sports Ground: 3pm, Saturday March 23

Odds: Bulldogs $1.81, Titans $2 – odds via PlayUp


Bulldogs: 1. Blake Taaffe 2. Blake Wilson 3. Jacob Kiraz 4. Stephen Crichton 5. Connor Tracey 6. Matt Burton 7. Drew Hutchison 8. Max King 9. Reed Mahoney 10. Liam Knight 11. Viliame Kikau 12. Jacob Preston 13. Jaeman Salmon 14. Kurt Mann 15. Samuel Hughes 16. Josh Curran 17. Kurtis Morrin 19. Bronson Xerri 20. Toby Sexton 21. Jake Turpin 22. Kitione Kautoga 23. Chris Patolo

Josh Addo-Carr misses another week with his shoulder injury. Connor Tracey continues to deputise on the wing. Poasa Faamausili is out following his concussion, so Liam Knight gets the start in the front row.

Titans: 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. Chris Randall 10. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui 11. Klese Haas 12. Beau Fermor 13. Jaimin Jolliffe 14. Sam Verrills 15. Isaac Liu 16. Erin Clark 17. Keenan Palasia 18. Joe Stimson 19. Harley Smith-Shields 20. Jacob Alick 21. Tom Weaver 22. Josiah Pahulu

Veteran playmaker Kieran Foran is back, but Jayden Campbell and David Fifita remain out. Jaimin Joliffe will start with Isaac Liu dropping to the bench.

St George Illawarra vs North Queensland at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium: 5.30pm, Saturday March 23

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


Dragons: 1. Tyrell Sloan 2. Zac Lomax 3. Moses Suli 4. Jack Bird 5. Mikaele Ravalawa 6. Kyle Flanagan 7. Ben Hunt 8. Jack de Belin 9. Jesse Marschke 10. Blake Lawrie 11. Luciano Leilua 12. Jaydn Su’A 13. Tom Eisenhuth10. Blake Lawrie 14. Connor Muhleisen 15. Michael Molo 16. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 17. Viliame Fifita 18. Christian Tuipulotu 19. Ben Murdoch-Masila 20. Mat Feagai 21. Ryan Couchman 22. Alex Tuitavake

Shane Flanagan has rejigged his pack following his side’s 38-0 humbling at Redcliffe. Jack de Belin goes to prop to replace Francis Molo, who is suspended and Viliame Fifita is the new man on the bench. Luciano Leilua starts and Jesse Marschke gets an NRL debut at hooker.

Cowboys: 1. Scott Drinkwater 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Valentine Holmes 4. Zac Laybutt 5. Murray Taulagi 6. Tom Dearden 7. Chad Townsend 8. Jordan McLean 9. Reece Robson 10. Jason Taumalolo 11. Kulikefu Finefeuiaki 12. Jeremiah Nanai 13. Reuben Cotter 14. Jake Granville 15. Griffin Neame 16. Sam McIntyre 17. Jack Gosiewski 18. Tom Chester 19. Thomas Mikaele 20. Semi Valemei 21. Marly Bitungane 22. Jake Clifford

Heilum Luki’s ankle injury means Kulikefu Finefeuiaki starts in the second row with Jack Gosiewski called up to the interchange.

Wests vs Cronulla at Leichhardt Oval: 7.35pm, Saturday March 23

Odds: Tigers $3.65, Sharks $1.28 – odds via PlayUp

Tigers: 1. Jahream Bula 2. Charlie Staines 3. Solomona Faataape 4. Justin Olam 5. Junior Tupou 6. Lachlan Galvin 7. Aidan Sezer 8. Stefano Utoikamanu 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. David Klemmer 11. Isaiah Papali’i 12. John Bateman 13. Fonua Pole 14. Jayden Sullivan 15. Alex Seyfarth 16. Alex Twal 17. Samuela Fainu 18. Asu Kepaoa 19. Jake Simpkin 20. Justin Matamua 21. Alex Lobb 22. Brent Naden


Aiden Sezer is elevated to start by coach Benji Marshall after he hooked Jayden Sullivan last week. Justin Olam gets a club debut after recovering from injury, he replaces Starford To’a, who has hurt his ankle.

Sharks: 1. William Kennedy 2. Sione Katoa 3. Jesse Ramien 4. Siosifa Talakai 5. Ronaldo Mulitalo 6. Braydon Trindall 7. Nicho Hynes 8. Toby Rudolf 9. Blayke Brailey 10. Oregon Kaufusi 11. Jack Williams 12. Teig Wilton 13. Cameron McInnes 14. Dale Finucane 15. Royce Hunt 16. Billy Burns 17. Thomas Hazelton 18. Kayal Iro 19. Tuku Hau Tapuha

Braden Hamlin-Uele (knee) is still out but Royce Hunt (illness) has recovered from an illness and will play with Tuka Hau Tapuha dropping to the reserves. Briton Nikora is suspended, so Jack Williams starts and Billy Burns gets a club debut off the bench.

Parramatta vs Manly at CommBank Stadium: 4.05pm, Sunday March 24

Odds: Eels $1.81, Sea Eagles $2 – odds via PlayUp

Eels: 1. Clint Gutherson 2. Morgan Harper 3. Will Penisini 4. Blaze Talagi 5. Sean Russell 6. Dylan Brown 7. Mitchell Moses 8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 9. Joey Lussick 10. Junior Paulo 11. Shaun Lane 12. Bryce Cartwright 13. J’maine Hopgood 14. Luca Moretti 15. Ryan Matterson 16. Joe Ofahengaue 17. Kelma Tuilagi


Winger Bailey Simonsson (concussion) is out so Blaize Talagi gets an NRL debut in the centre as Morgan Harper shifts to the wing.

Brad Arthur has opted for an all-forward bench, trading Brendan Hands for Luca Moretti. Kelma Tuilagi is named despite an injury against the Panthers. Junior Paulo gets the 10 jumper, but has traded places with Joe Ofahengaue in the run on in both of Parra’s games so far.

Sea Eagles: 1. Tom Trbojevic 2. Raymond Tuaimalo Vaega 3. Tolutau Koula 4. Reuben Garrick 5. Jaxson Paulo 6. Luke Brooks 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Taniela Paseka 9. Lachlan Croker 10. Josh Aloiai 11. Haumole Olakau’atu 12. Ben Trbojevic 13. Jake Trbojevic 14. Karl Lawton 15. Corey Waddell 16. Ethan Bullemor 17. Nathan Brown 18. Jakob Arthur 19. Tommy Talau 20. Aaron Woods 21. Brad Parker 22. Gordon Chan Kum Tong

Winger Tommy Talau is out with an ankle injury so Raymond Tuiamalo Vaega comes in. It had been expected that Talau’s knock was serious, but he is named in the extended bench. Josh Schuster will continue to build fitness in NSW Cup.

Newcastle vs Melbourne at McDonald Jones Stadium: 6.15pm, Sunday March 24

Odds: Knights $2.25, Storm $1.65 – odds via PlayUp

Knights: 1. Kalyn Ponga 2. Thomas Jenkins 3. Dane Gagai 4. Bradman Best 5. Enari Tuala 6. Tyson Gamble 7. Jack Cogger 8. Jacob Saifiti 9. Phoenix Crossland 10. Leo Thompson 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Kai Pearce-Paul 13. Adam Elliott 14. Jayden Brailey 15. Daniel Saifiti 16. Jack Hetherington 17. Jed Cartwright 18. Brodie Jones 19. Will Pryce 20. Mat Croker 21. Dylan Lucas 22. Jackson Hastings


Jackson Hastings has been dropped with Jack Cogger coming in. Greg Marzhew (wrist) set to miss up to a month, although Enari Tuala returns from injury to take his place. Jayden Brailey makes his first appearance since last April off the bench.

Storm: 1. Ryan Papenhuyzen 2. William Warbrick 3. Reimis Smith 4. Nick Meaney 5. Xavier Coates 6. Jonah Pezet 7. Tyran Wishart 8. Tui Kamikamica 9. Harry Grant 10. Josh King 11. Joe Chan 12. Eliesa Katoa 13. Trent Loiero 14. Kane Bradley 15. Tepai Moeroa 16. Chris Lewis 17. Alec MacDonald 18. Grant Anderson 19. Aaron Pene 20. Jack Howarth 21. Marion Seve 22. Shawn Blore

Cameron Munster and Jahrome Hughes will miss Sunday’s clash with Newcastle, meaning an inexperienced halves combo of Jonah Pezet and Tyrone Wishart. Christian Welch is also out after failing a HIA, with Tepai Moeroa coming in.

Bye – Dolphins

The raft of changes worked for the Dolphins against the Dragons. Kodi Nikorima was concussed in the win but should be right in Round 4.