NRL preview: Te’o set for league comeback, Cleary returns for Panthers & Marshall misses out

Love Rugby League has taken a look at round five of the NRL campaign.

Thursday, June 11

Manly Sea Eagles v Brisbane Broncos (10:55am)

Before the league’s suspension back in March, Brisbane looked to be flying high after winning their first two games but their fortunes have changed. It has been nowhere near the best return to action from the Broncos as they come off back-to-back heavy defeats to Parramatta and Sydney. They now face another stern test as they come up against a Manly side that will be left ruing a controversial forward pass call that would have seen them come away with a thrilling win over the Eels last week so expect them to come out firing in this one.

Team news: A luxury for Manly as they name the same squad that just lost out to Parramatta last week.

A couple of changes for Brisbane see Corey Oates named in the second-row and Kotoni Staggs makes a return at centre. Ben Te’o could make his return to rugby league off the bench for the Broncos. Matt Lodge and Joe Ofahengaue are set to start.

Friday, June 12

New Zealand Warriors v North Queensland Cowboys (9am)

After running circles around St George Illawarra in round three, the Warriors could not follow it up after being on the end of a shutout loss during Friday’s defeat to Penrith. It was certainly a far cry away from the side that put together a near perfect display against the Dragons a week before. The loss of Jason Taumalolo and Michael Morgan certainly made a big impact in the Cowboys squad as they failed to keep up with a Cronulla side that took advantage of some sloppy North Queensland play. The battle between Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Valentine Holmes is the highlight to this match up.

Team news: Isaiah Papali’i is replaced by Lachlan Burr in Warriors’ front-row. Peta Hiku and Agnatius Paasi may be late inclusions.

Jason Taumalolo could be included after being selected amongst the reserves. The trio of Ben Hampton, Jake Granville and John Asiata make way for debutant Hamiso Tabaui-Fidow, Reece Robson and Coen Hess.

Parramatta Eels v Penrith Panthers (10:55am)

The Panthers overcame their golden point draw to Newcastle with a 26-0 win over the Warriors on Friday and even though they may still have their problems from an attacking standpoint, the victory means Ivan Cleary’s men join Parramatta and Newcastle in being the only teams left to be undefeated this year. They now face their biggest test this season here as the Eels have looked strong contenders already this season. They took away a controversial victory over Manly last week but despite this, Brad Arthur’s men still put together the better 80-minute performance. There does not look to be many weak links in the Eels set up at the moment with Maika Sivo the highlight of a dangerous backline, with Mitch Moses steering the ship at half-back and Reagan Campbell-Gillard proving to be a sensational buy in the front-row.

Team news: Nathan Brown is set to return at lock for the Eels with Marata Niukore moving to the interchange bench.

Nathan Cleary makes his return to Penrith’s halves as Matt Burton is shifted to the bench.

Saturday, June 13

South Sydney Rabbitohs v Gold Coast Titans (6am)

The Rabbitohs continue to struggle to find some consistent form since the restart to the competition two weeks ago. Although they were able to push Melbourne for the majority of the game, they just could not find the quality to finish in the final third. This match up though could be a great opportunity for Wayne Bennett’s side to get their season kick-started as they come up against Gold Coast. However, the Titans will be on massive high as they recorded their win first win in almost a year with an inspiring effort to beat the Tigers.

Team news: The duo of James Roberts and Cody Walker are welcome returns to the Rabbitohs’ backline as Braidon Burns and Troy Dargan are out of the 17.

Gold Coast make no changes to the squad that claimed the Titans’ first win in nearly a year on Sunday. Jarrod Wallace and Tyrone Roberts are included in the reserves.

Newcastle Knights v Melbourne Storm (8:30am)

The Storm proved again they are the king of the arm wrestle as they did just that against the Souths. Despite their struggles and having a selection of errors themselves, Melbourne were still able to wear down the Bunnies and walk away with a win late on as Cameron Munster stole the show with his ball running, defensive tenacity, vision and kicking ability all on show. This match up against the Knights has the ability to be the game of the round though as Newcastle took full advantage of a sloppy Canberra side last week, with a returning Kalyn Ponga at his very best alongside Mitchell Pearce and teenage prodigy Bradman Best. Newcastle can certainly solidify themselves as Premiership contenders with a win here against the reigning Minor Premiers.

Team news: Newcastle are unchanged but the injury to Kurt Mann last week means Phoenix Crossland is on standby to step in.

Jahrome Hughes (hand) is out for Melbourne and Ryley Jacks has been named as his replacement at scrum-half but Cooper Johns and Nicho Hynes are also waiting in the wings.

Wests Tigers v Canberra Raiders (10:35am)

Both of these sides will be coming into this out for blood as the Tigers were the victims of Gold Coast’s first win in nearly a year last Sunday while the Raiders’ undefeated streak to start the season came to an end with a loss to Newcastle. The Raiders will definitely have a point to prove this week as they look to remind everyone that they are still one of the competition’s heavyweights while the Tigers will want to fix their lack of their consistency and Michael Maguire has addressed that with a reshuffle.

Team news: The biggest shock of the week sees Benji Marshall dropped from the Tigers as he makes way for Josh Reynolds. Robert Jennings, Oliver Clark, Luke Garner and Billy Walters are other noteworthy omissions with Tommy Talau, Zane Musgrove, Chris Lawrence and Michael Chee-Kam major inclusions.

Canberra make no changes to the team that lost to Newcastle last week. Ryan Sutton is named in the reserves.

Sunday, June 14

Canterbury Bulldogs v Sydney Roosters (7:05am)

The Roosters turned it up to the max against the Broncos last Thursday as they recorded a massive 59-0 win. The Roosters may have had no James Tedesco, but they showed just how dangerous they are and how much elite talent they have at their disposal. The Bulldogs, however, registered their first win of the season against St George Illawarra on Monday but it is going to take so much more if they want to come away with the victory against the back-to-back NRL champions. The return of Keiran Foran to the Canterbury halves was certainly a huge plus to Dean Pay’s side.

Team news: Christian Crichton moves to the Bulldogs bench in the only change for Canterbury.

Ryan Hall is pushed into the reserves as James Tedesco slots back in at full-back for the Roosters.

St George Illawarra Dragons v Cronulla Sharks (9:30am)

The Sharks overcame some pre-game temperature check chaos to claim their first win of the season over North Queensland. The likes of Jesse Ramien and Ronaldo Mulitalo were exceptional in the backline for Cronulla last week. They now come up against a Dragons side that just cannot seem to get anything clicking from an attacking standpoint, having failed to register a try in the last two rounds.

Team news: Euan Aitken and Tyrell Fuimaono replace the injured Brayden Wiliame and Tariq Sims while Matt Dufty joins the Dragons bench.

Chad Townsend is back in at half-back for Cronulla and Mawene Hiroti replaces Ronaldo Mulitalo (knee).

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