We preview each game in round 14 of the NRL campaign.
Manly Sea Eagles v North Queensland Cowboys (Friday, 9am, Watch NRL)
After a bye last week both sides come into this one with fresh legs, however, the outcome of this one may all come down to the availability of their Origin stars with such a short turnaround from the series opener. The Sea Eagles will be hoping Tom Trbojevic, Jake Trbojevic and Daly Cherry-Evans are all fit and ready to play as their influence on a game can be the reason between a win and a loss while the Cowboys will be hoping their own Origin stars can return well and make a big difference here.
Team news: The Origin trio of Cherry Evans, Jake Trbojevic and Tom Trbojevic have all been named to start for Manly, but Jorge Taufua and Cade Cust are both on standby. No Josh Schuster (calf) but Dylan Walker (hamstring), Kieran Foran (hand) and Ben Trbojevic (head knock) are all expected to play. Sean Keppie’s suspension means Haumole Olakau’atu comes into the second-row.
Jason Taumalolo and Lachlan Burr both return from suspensions to slot back into the Cowboys’ line-up. Tom Dearden is the new man at half-back with Jake Clifford moving onto to Newcastle. Queensland duo Valentine Holmes and Coen Hess both start but Kyle Feldt misses out after picking up a knock in Origin.
Cronulla Sharks v Penrith Panthers (Friday, 10:55am, Watch NRL)
The Sharks will feel like they have some momentum coming into this one as they sit on the back of two straight wins with their most recent coming against the Titans. However, the wounds may still be fresh from their heavy 48-0 loss to league leaders Penrith in round nine but this is as good as time as any to try avenge that defeat as the Panthers have seven players coming back from a brutal Origin encounter on Wednesday.
Team news: Only one major change for Cronulla as Andrew Fifita replaces Franklin Pele on the bench.
The Panthers are being cautious with their Origin reps as Nathan Cleary, Jarome Luai, Kurt Capewell, Liam Martin, Isaah Yeo and Brian To’o are all on the extended bench while Api Koroisau is set to start at hooker.
Gold Coast Titans v Sydney Roosters (Saturday, 6am, Watch NRL)
Despite there being plenty of optimism surrounding the Titans at the start of the year, Justin Holbrook’s men are now in a bit of a rough patch and sit in 12th spot after losing three of their last four matches. They face the task of conquering a battling Sydney side this week who will have the fresher legs after bye last week. The Roosters still sit in fifth place and bounced back from a shocking loss to Brisbane to easily beat Canberra in their last outing.
Team news: The Maroons’ AJ Brimson, David Fifita and Tino Fa’asuamaleaui all start if recovered well. Moeaki Fotuaika misses out though after receiving a one-match ban for dangerous contact in Origin I.
Angus Crichton is back from suspension and starts in the Roosters’ second-row while New South Wales star James Tedesco has been named at full-back despite featuring for New South Wales. Joseph Suaalii remains on standby.
South Sydney Rabbitohs v Newcastle Knights (Saturday, 8:30am, Sky Sports Arena or Watch NRL)
The Rabbitohs are another team coming fresh into this week following a bye in the last round. Their most recent match-up saw them overcome a tough Parramatta side to keep pace within the top four while the Knights will be disheartened after impressively beating Manly before suffering a big loss to the Eels themselves. Both sides have Origin players returning but it may come down to a matchday decision as to whether they take to the field.
Team news: The Rabbitohs will keeping a close eye on the fitness of Latrell Mitchell, Damien Cook, Cameron Murray and Jaydn Su’A with all four named in the matchday squad. Maroons duo Dane Gagai and Jai Arrow have been rested.
Blues prop Daniel Saifiti is in the front-row for the Knights, but it may all be dependent on his fitness. A slight re-shuffle on the backline sees Kurt Mann move to centre as Enari Tuala shifts to the wing while Jake Clifford and Phoenix Crossland are Newcastle’s halves duo.
Canberra Raiders vs Brisbane Broncos (Saturday, 10:35am, Sky Sports Arena or Watch NRL)
It has not been the year that most were expecting for Canberra as Ricky Stuart’s side continue to struggle down in 13th position with just a sole home win to their name. They have an opportunity to regain some much-needed confidence here though as they take on Brisbane who have only three wins to their name this year and sit just above last placed Canterbury in 15th. The Raiders should be the fresher of the two teams as they are just coming off a bye whereas Brisbane will need to shake off a 52-24 loss to the Dragons suffered last week.
Team news: Caleb Aekins drops out of Canberra’s starting 13 with Bailey Simonsson taking the number one role while Semi Valemei is the new man on the wing. Josh Papalii is back from suspension and Matthew Timoko replaces Curtis Scott at centre.
Karmichael Hunt is set to play his first NRL game since 2009 and starts at stand-off alongside Albert Kelly at half-back for Brisbane. Herbie Farnworth switches from centre to full-back as Jamayne Isaako drops out of the 21-man squad. A close eye will be kept on Origin representatives Payne Haas and Xavier Coates.
New Zealand Warriors v Melbourne Storm (Sunday, 5am, Watch NRL)
The Warriors are well within the top eight race right now sitting just outside in ninth and they have the added luxury of coming into this game after an extra week’s rest following the bye round. However, if they want to come away a huge scalp here then they will have to shake off a disappointing 29-28 loss to the Cowboys suffered in their last affair. Despite missing the likes of Cameron Munster and Josh Addo-Carr to Origin, the Storm were still able to flex their muscles with a 20-14 win over the Titans to remain second on the ladder and keep pace with Penrith at the top.
Team news: Warriors skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck reverts to full-back as Reece Walsh sits out due to suspension. Rocco Berry is at centre as Adam Pompey is also suspended while Josh Curran and Bayley Sironen return from injuries in the back-row.
Melbourne’s Origin reps Josh Addo-Carr, Felise Kaufusi and Cameron Munster are all in the starting side while Harry Grant and Christian Welch look to start off the bench. There’s no Nelson Asofa-Solomona though as he received a one-match ban for contrary conduct at the judiciary.
Parramatta Eels v Wests Tigers (Sunday, 7:05am, Sky Sports Main Event & Arena or Watch NRL)
A western Sydney derby wraps up Sunday’s double-header and you can imagine both sides will have plenty of confidence following big wins. The Eels were able to get their season back on track with a comprehensive win over Newcastle last week after two straight defeat to keep themselves in third place whereas the Tigers recorded consecutive wins for the first time this season after ending Penrith’s extensive win streak. The Panthers may have had plenty of players missing but even still the victory will be a big confidence boost for Michael Maguire’s men who now have four wins out of their last six and sit just outside of top eight.
Team news: Joey Lussick is the new face at hooker after Reed Mahoney injured his shoulder against Newcastle last week. Blues representative Junior Paulo is back at prop and Blake Ferguson has been called back up to the extended bench.
Moses Mbye has been named for the Tigers despite a knee issue while Queensland’s Joe Ofahengaue could start at loose forward.
Canterbury Bulldogs v St George Illawarra Dragons (Monday, 7am, Watch NRL)
The Dragons found themselves back to winning ways with a morale-boosting win over Brisbane in round 13 to snap a three-game losing streak. That victory sees them right within the race for the NRL finals as they sit in eighth and level on points with the Warriors. Meanwhile, Canterbury are back after a much needed extra week off to regroup following a poor first half to the year. The Bulldogs attack has left a lot to be desired as they have just a sole win to their name this year and look set for the wooden spoon if they do not find some rhythm in the second half of the season.
Team news: A boost for Canterbury sees Jeremy Marshall-King (foot) back at dummy-half.
The Dragons name the same 17 man squad that beat the Broncos last week.
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