Round 19 of the NRL season gets underway this weekend.
Parramatta Eels v Canberra Raiders (Thursday, 10:55am, Sky Sports Mix or Watch NRL)
The 19th round of the season opens with an intriguing match-up between two teams who still have plenty to play for before the regular season ends. The Eels can solidify their position inside the top four with a win here while Canberra are in a dogfight to try and capture a NRL finals spot. The Raiders have found some form as of late, winning back-to-back games for the first time this season following a victory over Cronulla and Parramatta will have plenty of confidence as they saw off Gold Coast last week even without chief playmaker Mitch Moses.
Team news: No Mitch Moses (back) for Parramatta so Jake Arthur takes the number seven role. Junior Paulo is back in the front-row after a rest last week. Will Penisini makes his debut at centre with Tom Opacic out and Blake Ferguson has been recalled on to the wing with Haze Dunster dropping out.
Canberra has to deal without Jack Wighton (ribs) at five-eighth with his place is taken by Matt Frawley. Jordan Rapana moves to full-back with youngster Xavier Savage out for rest of season. Harley Smith-Shields fills the void on the wing.
Sydney Roosters v Newcastle Knights (Friday, 9am, Watch NRL)
The Roosters have had injuries go against them all year, but they have still found a way to battle through it and sit in fifth position. After consecutive wins against Canterbury and North Queensland they will be looking to make it three wins a row for the first time this season while trying to keep within distance of the top four in the process. The Knights just had no answer for Melbourne last week, however they still sit in a prime spot to capture an NRL finals berth as they sit level on points with Canberra and Cronulla in eighth place.
Team news: James Tedesco is back at full-back for Sydney following a week’s rest after Origin III. Joey Manu goes back to centre while Siosiua Taukeiaho (hamstring) takes a spot on the bench.
Daniel Saifiti makes a welcome return to Newcastle’s front-row following a post-Origin rest while both David Klemmer and Kalyn Ponga have been named despite failing HIAs last week.
North Queensland Cowboys v Melbourne Storm (Friday, 10:55am, Sky Sports Mix or Watch NRL)
The Cowboys have it all to do this week as they face a Melbourne side that look no closer to being stopped as an easy win over Newcastle last week saw them record their 14th straight win to remain at the top of the table while scoring 40 or more points for an outstanding 11th time this season. If North Queensland want to come away with a shock victory here then they will have to shake off a bad run of form which has seen them lose their last five.
Team news: Javid Bowen’s season ending ACL/MCL injury means Murray Taulagi shifts to centre and Kane Bradley comes onto the wing to make his NRL debut for the Cowboys.
A huge boost for Melbourne as Ryan Papenhuyzen has been named on the bench to make his comeback from a concussion. Origin duo Josh Addo-Carr and Christian Welch are back in the starting line-up after resting last week while Chris Lewis comes into the second-row with Dale Finucane (HIA) out. Cameron Munster has been rested so Cooper Johns is in at stand-off.
South Sydney Rabbitohs v New Zealand Warriors (Saturday, 6am, Watch NRL)
The Warriors’ finals hopes are hanging by a thread as they sit in 14th spot and, even though they sit four points adrift of eighth, it would take something extra special from them to secure a play-offs spot. Meanwhile, the Rabbitohs have looked strong all year, sitting in third while scoring the second most points by a team this season – only behind Melbourne. If South Sydney can make sure their heavy hitters are all fit and healthy come the end of the season, then a big run in the finals is certainly not out of the question by any means.
Team news: Rabbitohs’ leading try scorer Alex Johnston (hamstring) has been sidelined so Jaxson Paulo takes his place on the wing. Josh Mansour earns a recall while Latrell Mitchell returns at full-back after a week’s rest following Origin. Jai Arrow is back after serving suspension for a breach of COVID Protocols.
Warriors captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (HIA) has not been named while Kodi Nikorima is back in the starting 13 at stand-off. Adam Pompey replaces Rocco Berry (hamstring) at centre. Both Wayde Egan (shoulder) and Tohu Harris (ACL) are out for season so Jazz Tevaga is in at hooker and Jack Murchie starts in the second-row.
Manly Sea Eagles v Wests Tigers (Saturday, 8:30am, Sky Sports Main Event & Mix or Watch NRL)
After a poor start to the season, Manly’s red hot mid-season form has seen them firmly enter the finals picture with seven games remaining. The Sea Eagles sit comfortably in sixth with a top four spot maybe just out of the question. However, it remains a massive contrast as to where Des Hasler’s men were earlier in the year and with some key players back on deck after Origin they have every chance to close the regular season out strongly. The Tigers are not out of finals contention just yet, sitting only two points behind those in eighth but they made need some help from their rivals if they want to be there after round 25.
Team news: A huge boost for Manly sees Tom Trbojevic, Jake Trbojevic and Daly Cherry-Evans all return to the starting side.
The Tigers name an unchanged 17-man squad.
Penrith Panthers v Brisbane Broncos (Saturday, 10:35am, Watch NRL)
After a shaky Origin period, Penrith can now settle in with most of their representative stars back in the fold and try and regain top spot on the ladder and secure back-to-back minor premierships. The Panthers may still be without talisman Nathan Cleary but there is still plenty of star quality in the ranks that can do the business. They come up against a Brisbane side that sit in 15th place and looking to gain ground on Canterbury and avoid a second consecutive wooden spoon.
Team news: A Panthers backline re-shuffle sees Jarome Luai back from injury to take his place at stand-off while Matt Burton shifts back to centre. Tyrone May retains the number seven role with Nathan Cleary still a week away from a return.
After coming off the interchange last week both Jordan Riki and Thomas Flegler have been named in the Broncos’ starting side and Xavier Coates has been listed on the extended bench after being rested the following week.
St George Illawarra Dragons v Gold Coast Titans (Sunday, 5am, Watch NRL)
Both sides will be looking to regain some confidence following disappointing defeats last week. The Dragons are fresh off a disappointing loss to Manly whilst still having to deal with a biosecurity breach that has seen 12 players face suspension. Meanwhile, the Titans need to find a groove from somewhere as the loss to Parramatta means they have now seen defeat in four of their last five games. Despite this, both clubs are in finals contention with the Dragons holding on to sole possession of seventh place while Gold Coast sit just two points behind eighth place in 11th.
Team news: Plenty of changes for the Dragons as Jayden Sullivan makes his first start of the season at five-eighth. Matt Dufty returns at full-back while Tyrell Fuimaono is back after serving a ban and will come off the bench. Cody Ramsey and Gerard Beale are the new centre pairing and Matthew Feagai (ankle) returns on the wing. Jack De Belin shifts to bench and Josh Kerr moves from the second-row into the front-row.
Titans’ trio Jamal Fogarty (hand), Erin Clark (elbow) and Phillip Sami (ankle) all miss out, so Toby Sexton has been selected to make his NRL debut at half-back while Greg Marzhew comes onto the wing and Mitch Rein replaces Clark at dummy-half.
Canterbury Bulldogs v Cronulla Sharks (Sunday, 7:05am, Watch NRL)
The Bulldogs have showed some fight in recent weeks giving a good account of themselves against the likes of South Sydney and the Roosters. However, as we approach the end of the season, Canterbury will need to start translating these efforts into wins as they try to avoid the wooden spoon. They have every chance to come away with a victory here as they face a Cronulla side that has lacked some punch this year despite holding onto a spot in the play-offs in eighth place.
Team news: Canterbury’s Luke Thomspon moves from prop to loose forward as Ava Seumanufagai moves from the bench to starting front-row. Jeremy Marshall-King is back from suspension and will start at hooker.
Aiden Tolman (suspension) sits out for Cronulla, so Toby Rudolf moves to prop and Jack Williams starts at lock.