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Super Saturday round 13 will conclude with the Manly Sea Eagles travelling north to Townsville to face the North Queensland Cowboys, and with several behemoths set to be let loose on 1300SMILES Stadium, this shapes up as a very exciting clash. Join The Roar for live scores and a blog from 7:35pm AEST.
The battle for the middle third of the field should shape the entire contest, with Jason Taumalolo along with Josh McGuire and Jordan McLean coming up against Addin Fonua-Blake, Marty Taupau and potentially Jake Trbojevic should he back up from Origin duty.
Manly coach Des Hasler has named the elder Trbojevic and captain Daly Cherry-Evans on an extended bench, although it’s unclear at this stage whether the Origin pair will back up or not.
However, there are two big ins for Manly. Moses Suli returns to partner Dylan Walker in the centres, while superstar Tom Trbojevic will also return from injury to take his place at fullback in what is a massive boost for the team.
With an injury cloud now hanging over NSW and Canberra winger Nick Cotric, the man they call “Tommy Turbo” will be looking to make an immediate impact, and convince Blues coach Brad Fittler that he is ready to reclaim his place on the right wing, at the expense of his fellow Serb Cotric.
For the Cowboys, their two Origin stars Michael Morgan and Josh McGuire have both been named to start, McGuire in the front row while Morgan will shift to the back to cover for the loss of Jordan Kahu through a shoulder injury.
It cannot be overstated how big an inclusion Tom Trbojevic is to this Manly side. They’ve battled admirably without him, showing plenty of grit and determination and winning enough games to put them in seventh spot. He will bring so much to the side, and will give the Cowboys plenty to think about in defence.
The inclusions of his brother Jake and skipper Daly Cherry-Evans would be equally huge, as they take the pressure off Tom to conjure up tries out of nothing.
The Cowboys’ biggest strength is their middle, although Manly are hardly weak in this department. The massive difference between these two sides lies in who plays in the key positions.
For the Cowboys, Jake Clifford has shown plenty of inexperience this year and has not been overly impressive, while John Asiata (a very skilled player no-doubt) is a makeshift five-eighth.
Meanwhile the combination of DCE and Cade Cust excites me greatly. The experienced Queensland and Manly captain steering the team around while the young upstart works off the back of him – what a combination!
Manly’s class in key positions should see them home in this game, although late withdrawals of Jake Trbojevic and/or DCE would make this game much more of a coin toss.
Manly by 12 (on the assumption that Jake and DCE play).
Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of the match, starting from 7:30pm AEST.
Where: 1300SMILES Stadium, Townsville
Streaming: NRL Digital Pass, Kayo Sports
TV: Fox League
North Queensland Cowboys
1. Michael Morgan 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Mitchell Dunn 4. Tom Opacic 5. Enari Tuala 6. John Asiata 7. Jake Clifford 8. Josh McGuire 9. Jake Granville 10. Jordan McLean 11. Gavin Cooper 12. Coen Hess 13. Jason Taumalolo 14. Reuben Cotter 15. Shane Wright 16. Scott Bolton 17. Francis Molo 18. Peter Hola 19. Javid Bowen 20. Corey Jensen 21. Emry Pere
Manly Sea Eagles
1. Tom Trbojevic 2. Jorge Taufua 3. Dylan Walker 4. Moses Suli 5. Reuben Garrick 6. Cade Cust 7. Kane Elgey 8. Addin Fonua-Blake 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. Martin Taupau 11. Joel Thompson 12. Curtis Sironen 13. Jack Gosiewski 14. Manase Fainu 15. Brendan Elliot 16. Morgan Boyle 17. Taniela Paseka 18. Jake Trbojevic 19. Daly Cherry-Evans 20. Haumole Olakauatu 21. Lloyd Perrett