Friday 23 March 2018 / 07:50 PM


Reaction, analysis and talking points from the Round 10 team lists

The Headlines

Controversy Corner

After a big week of drama, even by NRL standards, the after-effects are beginning to show. Tim Glasby will replace Jesse Bromwich (who will miss two games) in the front-row, a massive loss. Not only is Bromwich the gold standard for props, this comes at a particularly frustrating time as the Storm are dealing with a host of forward injuries, including Nelson Asofa-Solomona and Christian Welch.

Their opponents, funnily enough the Gold Coast Titans, will be without Kevin Proctor indefinitely as he awaits decision from the Titans board. The Titans are operating with no room for error and considering they only just recently got their first-choice team on the park, the loss is momentous.

Elsewhere, Shaun Kenny-Dowall’s wrong-doing has provided forgotten talent Latrell Mitchell a second chance. With SKD’s porous form, and now off-field issues, his spot is in real jeopardy going forward. Sia Soliola replaces Josh Papalii, whose punishment was pushed forward a week to coincide with playing the Knights in a cunning, yet deplorable move from Canberra management.


Big Losses

A host of clubs will be without some key players this week. First mentioned has to be Johnathan Thurston. After fighting to be fit for the ANZAC Test, JT suffered a minor rotator cuff tear that will once again put him on the sidelines. It’s common knowledge how much North Queensland struggles without their leader, and sitting outside the eighth with only a win over Newcastle since Round 5 doesn’t bode too well for their next stretch.

The Cowboys’s opponents on Thursday, Canterbury, will be without Josh Reynolds until at least Round 14 after sustaining a hamstring injury. Whilst they do have a ready replacement in Matt Frawley, Reynolds provides so much of the spark for their dull offence that he is always going to be missed. However, addition by subtraction: though Reynolds has been in strong form, expect Moses Mbye to put in a shift as he is allowed to play his natural five-eighth role.

The Dragons took another blow over rep round, with Josh Dugan suffering a fractured eye-socket, compounding the loss of skipper Gareth Widdop. After flying high for the first nine games, the Dragons’ season has seen its first signs of turbulence, and will go into a tough clash against local rivals Cronulla without two of its spine members and arguably the team’s two best players. Rough.

The Tigers are set to line up without skipper Aaron Woods, the hamstring injury that ruled him out of the Test keeping him on ice until Round 13.

Big Inclusions

On the flipside, key players are set to return from lay-offs this week. Most notably the Cowboys, in desperate need of stability, get spine duo Jake Granville and Lachlan Coote back, bolstering their depleted stocks. Their return softens the blow of losing JT a touch.

Kiwi international Tohu Harris is set to make his long-awaited season debut. His inclusion is an interesting conundrum for Craig Bellamy, with current back-rowers Kenny Bromwich and Felise Kaufusi playing great footy. Harris has always been reliable and versatile, so it’s intriguing to see where he fits into this season’s plans.

Raiders prop Shannon Boyd is set to return from injury without missing a club game and James Fisher-Harris will start on the right edge for Penrith, although he hasn’t been too badly missed due to the terrific play of rookie and fellow Northland (NZ) product Corey Harawira-Naera.


Mismatch of the Week

This one is trouble. The league’s most explosive offensive unit comes up against the most unstable defence. Newcastle have been tough, competing weekly and pushing teams as far as they can – but sometimes the experience and talent deficit just takes over. Canberra has a tendency to light up teams once they get a leg up, and some of the circus tries they like to score are downright disheartening. It will take a monster effort for the Knights to restrict the Green Machine.

Stray Observations

  • Marcelo Montoya is unlucky to lose his spot among the Dogs depth. Did a good job filling in and grew each week. If Kerrod Holland doesn’t perform expect him to get another shot.
  • Filling in for the injured Patrick Kaufusi, John Asiata will start in the front-row after playing halfback for the last three weeks… Has that ever happened before?
  • Jordan Kahu is so versatile. With James Roberts ruled out, Mead slots onto the wing pushing Kahu, ever-capable, into the centres. Considering he can fill a number of outside-back positions with such quality and consistency – and is even a five-eighth option – it’s genuinely surprising that no one has made a serious offer to pry him away from the Broncos while the market is on hold awaiting bigger names.
  • After weeks of my lobbying, Paul Green has finally moved Coen Hess back to the bench for Ethan Lowe. Makes more sense within the team’s construction to have Hess provide a much needed spark off the bench. Good to take it easy on his young legs too.
  • After being dropped, and then picked for Country, Connor Watson has snuck back onto the interchange bench, once again.
  • Word is Trent Hodkinson is ‘close’ to returning. Needs to be soon – Jaelen Feeney is not a first-grade halfback and is seriously hurting the team.
  • Without Aaron Woods, the Tigers’ pack looks paper thin. Mail coming in says new signing Malakai Watene-Zelezniak is a chance to slide into the starting lineup on the wing. It would be wise to move Chee-Kam, a natural back-rower, into the forwards to beef up the pack.
  • Are people seriously still considering Robbie Farah for Origin? I’ve read multiple experts who’ve picked him in their teams and rallied for him to be selected. Am I missing the joke?
  • With Reynolds out, Matt Frawley has been picked in the starting side. Rejoice. Numbers are just numbers, but Hasler not giving him the No.7 jersey until now is rather strange. A breakthrough nonetheless.
  • Nightingale was great in Dugan’s absence earlier in the season, but expect it to be harder this time around without Widdop. The Dragons are about to face their first real adversity for the season.
  • Why not Lachlan Coote to No.7 for NQ? Just something to think about…especially since Kalyn Ponga has been left out of the 17 altogether.
  • Sad news with Jamal Idris’ season over due to an ACL injury. Rugby league is too hard of a game to step back into if you’re not in the proper shape and Jamal always looked a step behind.
    • The move to slide Hayne to the centres is the right one. Tyrone Roberts has played the house down all year and Hayne still hasn’t hit his peak performance to demand the amount of ball the fullback sees. On the edge he can pick his spots without hurting the team.


Outside Chances

  • Named on the extended bench, Bevan French is a real shot to return from injury this week, which would force a reshuffle of the Eels backline, probably forcing out Will Smith who was superb in Townsville.
  • James Roberts has been named but it is extremely unlikely he plays.
  • Aaron Gray is pushing to return from a long layoff, named in Souths’ squad.
  • Te Maire Martin is on the Panthers’ bench but whether or not he’s in calculations is yet to be seen. It’s believed Penrith want to pursue Cartwright at five-eighth.
  • Pauli Pauli is a chance to return from injury after debuting in for City and being named for the Knights.

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Brayden Issa

Brayden is a Sydney-based sports management student and sports fanatic, specialising in rugby league, basketball, football and cricket. He is concerned with everything related to professional sports performance and management.

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