NRL Preview: Farnworth boosts Brisbane, Hodgson returns & Johnson’s 200th NRL appearance

It is the annual Indigenous round in the NRL this weekend.

Brisbane Broncos v Melbourne Storm (Thursday, 10:55am, Watch NRL)

Herbie Farnworth is back for Brisbane

The Broncos come into this one with a big dose of confidence following an inspiring 34-16 win over Sydney last week to earn their third win of the year and stay clear of Canterbury in last place. However, you can certainly imagine coach Kevin Walters will be expecting that kind of display here as they take on a scintillating Melbourne side who continue to pile on the points for fun and keep themselves well within distance of table toppers Penrith.

Team news: Herbie Farnworth returns at centre for Brisbane after a late withdrawal last week. Matt Lodge (suspended) is out so Rhys Kennedy starts in the front-row. Anthony Milford is back at half-back with Tyson Gamble (suspended) also out. Teui Robati is set to make his debut off the bench.

Jahrome Hughes provides a Melbourne boost as he takes back the scrum-half role after missing the Canberra clash.

North Queensland Cowboys v New Zealand Warriors (Friday, 9am, Sky Sports Main Event & Arena or Watch NRL)

Ben Murdoch-Masila is set to start on the bench for the Warriors

A significant match-up in regards to the top eight with both clubs flirting around the cusp of eighth spot as they sit level on 10 points in the position. Both of these sides will certainly feel good about themselves going into this one following their retrospective wins in the last round, but the Cowboys will be looking to avenge an agonising 24-20 defeat to the Warriors earlier in the season and will have home advantage this time round as they meet in Townsville.

Team news: Jason Taumalolo (suspended) sits out, so Coen Hess is named to start at loose forward for North Queensland. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow takes Connelly Lemuelu’s place at centre.

Reece Walsh retains the Warriors’ full-back role with Roger Tuivasa-Sheck staying on the wing. Bunty Afoa and Ben Murdoch-Massila revert to the interchange.

Wests Tigers v St George Illawarra Dragons (Friday, 10:55am, Watch NRL)

Brayden Wiliame returns for the Dragons

Both sides let a victory escape them last week with the Tigers leading with 20 minutes to go against the Warriors, but two late tries condemned them to defeat. The Dragons’ hold on the top eight continues to slip with that golden point loss to rivals Cronulla they now have one win in their last five. Also, if Anthony Griffin’s men needed any more motivation to try and rediscover their way, then an opportunity to exact some revenge on the Tigers after an earlier loss in the season at Wollongong presents itself.

Team news: James Roberts returns from a pectoral injury on the wing while Tommy Talau switches to centre for the Tigers.

Tariq Sims replaces Josh Kerr (suspended) in the Dragons’ second-row while Paul Vaughan moves back into the starting line-up at prop and Poasa Faamausili drops back to the bench. Winger Max Feagai (head knock) is replaced by Brayden Wiliame.

Penrith Panthers v Canterbury Bulldogs (Saturday, 6am, Watch NRL)

Stephen Crichton in action for the Panthers

A battle of first versus last as the undefeated Panthers take on a Canterbury side with just the sole win to their name in 2021. There does not look to be much more you can say about this Penrith outfit at the moment as they come into this one following a 56-12 demolition of premiership chasers South Sydney, so the Bulldogs need to produce nothing but their very best plus more if they want to come away with the most of shocking of wins.

Team news: Kurt Capewell (suspended) misses one week of action for Penrith, so Liam Martin shifts to the second-row and Moses Leota moves into the front-row. Dylan Edwards (hamstring) is out so Stephen Crichton remains at full-back and Paul Momirovski stays at centre.

A big boost for Canterbury sees Josh Jackson return from injury at loose forward while Jack Hetherington also makes his comeback at prop. Jackson Topine starts at hooker with Sione Katoa (suspended) sitting out.

South Sydney Rabbitohs v Parramatta Eels (Saturday, 8:30am, Sky Sports Main Event & Arena or Watch NRL)

Cameron Murray is back for the Rabbitohs

The pick of the matches this week sees two teams looking to get their seasons back on track following big defeats in the last round. After looking like one of best sides to possibly challenge the Panthers this year, the Rabbitohs have hit a brick wall over the last couple of weeks after conceding 50 points to premier rivals Penrith and Melbourne. If the Bunnies want to prove they can make a decent challenge this year then a win here against a just as tough Parramatta side will provide a big boost to their morale. The Eels meanwhile have looked extremely solid all year, sitting joint second with their loss to Manly looking more like a blip right now.

Team news: Good news for the Rabbitohs sees Cameron Murray and Jacob Host named to make their returns in the back-row. Taane Milne comes onto the wing with Josh Mansour (head knock) out. Tom Burgess drops to interchange as Jai Arrow is set to start in the front-row.

Reagan Campbell-Gillard (suspended) misses one game following a high tackle made in last week’s game against Manly, so Oregon Kaufusi moves into the starting 13.

Sydney Roosters v Canberra Raiders (Saturday, 10:35am, Sky Sports Main Event & Arena or Watch NRL)

Josh Hodgson returns for Canberra

The Roosters will be looking to bounce back after a shocking loss to Brisbane last week, with the defeat seeing them start to lose ground on the top four. A selection of key injuries and suspensions just have not been kind to the Roosters, but they have still shown plenty of fight throughout the year and can easily still challenge for a top four spot with the talent they have a their disposal. The Raiders, on the other hand, just have not had it their own way this year at all with missing players also effecting their season. The loss to Melbourne was their sixth in the last seven games and now a place in the NRL finals looks to be starting to fade if they do not find a solution.

Team news: Two big losses for Sydney sees Victor Radley (five games) and Angus Crichton (two games) both suspended following their judiciary hearings. Issac Liu switches to lock and Siosiua Taukeiaho starts at prop. Josh Morris is back at centre.

Plenty of changes for Canberra as Sam Williams is the new man at number seven following George Williams being granted an immediate release on compassionate grounds. The trio of Jack Wighton, Jordan Rapana and Josh Hodgson provide a huge boost with their returns to the side.

Cronulla Sharks v Gold Coast Titans (Sunday, 5am, Watch NRL)

Shaun Johnson is set to make his 200th NRL appearance

The Sharks gave themselves some much needed confidence after snapping a six-game losing streak last week with a thrilling golden point win over the Dragons. The 2016 champions still have plenty of work to do though as they remain four points adrift of the top eight. The Titans have had the better year so far sitting tied in eighth with a stellar looking attack that has scored the fifth most tries this year with 45 so far and five of them coming in the win against Canterbury the week before.

Team news: Shaun Johnson is set to play his 200th NRL game after returning from an injury while Jesse Ramien is back at centre for Cronulla. Mawene Hiroti, Josh Dugan and Teig Wilton are all suspended.

Superstar second-rower David Fifita returns from suspension for the Titans while Patrick Herbert has been selected at centre with Esan Marsters dropping out.

Newcastle Knights v Manly Sea Eagles (Sunday, 7:05am, Watch NRL)

Kalyn Ponga is back for Newcastle

After losing their first four games at the start of the season, Manly have now transformed themselves into one of the hottest teams of the competition with Tom Trbojevic’s return completely rejuvenating the side as they have won six of their last seven games and now they sit inside the top six. Meanwhile, Newcastle need to find a way change their luck as their NRL finals’ hopes begin to slip away. However, the return of superstar full-back Kalyn Ponga may just go a long way in helping them find their groove once again.

Team news: Three big changes for Newcastle sees influential duo Ponga and Bradman Best back in the starting line-up. Kurt Mann moves to five-eighth and Phoenix Crossland is the new man at half-back following Blake Green’s retirement.

Curtis Sironen marks his return from a knee injury for Manly off the bench in the only major change for Des Hasler’s side.


Watch NRL and live stream every NRL game to keep up with how Tom Burgess, Josh Hodgson, Ryan Sutton, Elliott Whitehead, Luke Thompson and George Williams and all the others are getting on Down Under.

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