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A huge Sunday of Round 17 NRL begins with the Sydney Roosters hosting the North Queensland Cowboys on the Central Coast. Join The Roar for live scores and coverage from 2pm (AEST).
The Roosters in second place come into this game as heavy favourites after defeating the Wests Tigers last week. While they will be without NSW Origin stars Boyd Cordner and man-of-the-series James Tedesco who are being rested by coach Trent Robinson, they welcome back captain and hooker Jake Friend from a bicep injury ahead of schedule.
This is a huge in for the defending premiers, the flow-on effect of which sees young star Victor Radley return to his favoured position of lock in a move that will further strengthen the side.
Joseph Manu is covering for Tedesco at fullback and has been impressive in that position in the few games he’s played there. Brett Morris is playing right centre – Manu’s regular position – while the wings are occupied by Daniel Tupou and Ryan Hall.
It’ll be interesting to see who of those three makes way when Tedesco returns next week – needless to say Hall, Tupou and Morris will all be wanting to have big games in order to impress coach Robinson and retain their place in the side.
The Cowboys will not be wanting for motivation either. They are sitting in 13th position on the ladder, and just one loss could see them lose touch with the other 8 or 9 teams currently vying for the 7th and 8th spots.
It is also club legend Gavin Cooper’s 300th NRL game, and the boys from the North will certainly want to make him a winner on this special occasion.
Queensland Maroons star Josh McGuire has been named to back up from State of Origin, while Matt Scott will also return from a shoulder injury after a four-week absence. Javid Bowen has also been called in to replace Enari Tuala on the wing.
The Roosters should be too good for North Queensland in this one.
They will be ecstatic to have captain and hooker Jake Friend back in the side, and after welcoming back Luke Keary and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves last week, they will be looking forward to being at full strength next week with the returns of James Tedesco and Boyd Cordner – barring any injuries in this game.
Trent Robinson knows the time is now for the Roosters to begin their march towards the finals after a taxing Origin period. He will no doubt have his side ready for this clash.
The Cowboys have plenty to play for and will not be easy-beats. But the Roosters have too much class.
Roosters by 10.
Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of the match, starting from 2:00pm (AEST).
Where: Central Coast Stadium, Central Coast
TV: Fox League
Streaming: NRL Digital Pass, Kayo Sports
1. Joseph Manu 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Latrell Mitchell 4. Brett Morris 5. Ryan Hall 6. Luke Keary 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9. Jake Friend 10. Siosiua Taukeiaho 11. Nat Butcher 12. Mitchell Aubusson 13. Victor Radley 14. Isaac Liu 15. Angus Crichton 16. Sitili Tupouniua 17. Poasa Faamausili 18. Lindsay Collins 19. Matt Ikuvalu 20. Lachlan Lam 21. Sam Verrills
1. Scott Drinkwater 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Jordan Kahu 4. Tom Opacic 5. Javid Bowen 6. Michael Morgan 7. Jake Clifford 8. Josh McGuire 9. Jake Granville 10. Jordan McLean 11. Gavin Cooper 12. Shane Wright 13. Jason Taumalolo 14. John Asiata 15. Matt Scott 16. Scott Bolton 17. Francis Molo 18. Coen Hess 19. Reuben Cotter 20. Corey Jensen 21. Murray Taulagi