Round 18 teams, ins and outs, Cameron Munster, Ben Hunt, Jake Trbojevic, Joseph Suaalii, Melbourne Storm, Sydney Roosters, rugby league news, reaction
The Sea Eagles will be boosted by the return of several key players from injury, none more notable than Jake Trbojevic.
Joseph Suaalii is back for the Roosters after serving a three game suspension for dangerous contact and Origin hero Cameron Munster will return for Melbourne in their blockbuster clash against the Panthers.
Meanwhile, Ben Hunt’s release request has been rejected by the Dragons (for now), and it appears he’ll be lining up against the Sharks on Thursday.
Read on for all of the NRL team news ahead of Round 18.
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Cronulla Sharks vs St George Illawarra Dragons 7.50pm AEST at PointsBet Stadium
Round 16 Sharks team: 1. William Kennedy 2. Sione Katoa 3. Jesse Ramien 4. Siosifa Talakai 5. Ronaldo Mulitalo 6. Matt Moylan 7. Nicho Hynes 8. Oregon Kaufusi 9. Blayke Brailey 10. Braden Hamlin-Uele 11. Briton Nikora 12. Teig Wilton 13. Dale Finucane 14. Cameron McInnes 15. Wade Graham 16. Jack Williams 17. Thomas Hazelton
Team Tips: Toby Rudolf (foot) is due to return. He could slot back into the side at the expense of Thomas Hazelton or Jack Williams, otherwise, don’t expect much change from the side that thrashed the Bulldogs two weeks ago.
Last week’s Dragons team: 1. Tyrell Sloan 2. Mathew Feagai 3. Moses Suli 4. Zac Lomax 5. Mikaele Ravalawa 6. Jayden Sullivan 7. Ben Hunt 8. Francis Molo 9. Jacob Liddle 10. Blake Lawrie 11. Jack Bird 12. Jaydn Su’A 13. Jack de Belin 14. Talatau Amone 15. Michael Molo 16. Ben Murdoch-Masila 17. Zane Musgrove
Team Tips: Ben Hunt’s contract stand-off hasn’t been resolved with the Dragons blocking his release request. Hunt is expected to be at training on Wednesday and at this stage, will play on Thursday. Moses Suli (head knock) will be monitored through the week.
Dragons DENY Hunt an immediate release | 02:54
New Zealand Warriors vs South Sydney Rabbitohs 6pm AEST at Go Media Stadium
Last week’s Warriors team: 1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 2. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 3. Rocco Berry 4. Adam Pompey 5. Marcelo Montoya 6. Luke Metcalf 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Addin Fonua-Blake 9. Wayde Egan 10. Bunty Afoa 11. Jackson Ford 12. Marata Niukore 13. Tohu Harris 14. Dylan Walker 15. Josh Curran 16. Bayley Sironen 17. Tom Ale
Team Tips: Marata Niukore is looking at a 3-4 week stint on the sideline for a high tackle. Josh Curran is expected to start in his place. Mitch Barnett will be welcomed back from his six-week suspension. Te Maire Martin (leg) is nearing a return but the Warriors may elect to play it safe due to the recent form of Luke Metcalf at five-eighth.
Last week’s Rabbitohs team: 1. Blake Taaffe 2. Alex Johnston 3. Isaiah Tass 4. Campbell Graham 5. Richard Kennar 6. Cody Walker 7. Lachlan Ilias 8. Tevita Tatola 9. Damien Cook 10. Hame Sele 11. Keaon Koloamatangi 20. Jacob Host 13. Cameron Murray 12. Jed Cartwright 16. Davvy Moale 17. Thomas Burgess 19. Peter Mamouzelos
Team Tips: Jacob Host (shoulder charge) faces a two-match ban with an early plea. Jed Cartwright likely starts in the second row. Coach Jason Demetriou could look to make changes to the side that were embarrassed by the Cowboys.
Melbourne Storm vs Penrith Panthers 8pm AEST at Marvel Stadium
Last week’s Storm team: 1. Nick Meaney 2. William Warbrick 3. Reimis Smith 4. Justin Olam 5. Xavier Coates 22. Jonah Pezet 7. Jahrome Hughes 15. Tariq Sims 9. Harry Grant 10. Christian Welch 11. Trent Loiero 12. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 13. Josh King 14. Bronson Garlick 16. Aaron Pene 17. Tyran Wishart 21. Alec MacDonald
Team Tips: Craig Bellamy expects Cam Munster (illness) to be right after the Origin star missed last week. Despite his impressive showing in that game, Jonah Pezet will make way. Aaron Pene twisted his ankle but Bellamy said he “didn’t think it was too serious.” The Storm will be boosted by the return of Eliesa Katoa (eye). Nelson Asofa-Solomona’s dominant performance could see him remain on the edge but with Katoa’s return, he’ll likely go back to prop.
Last week’s Panthers team: 1. Dylan Edwards 2. Sunia Turuva 3. Izack Tago 21. Tyrone Peachey 22. Thomas Jenkins 17. Jaeman Salmon 7. Jack Cogger 8. Moses Leota 9. Mitch Kenny 10. James Fisher-Harris 11. Scott Sorensen 18. Zac Hosking 19. Matt Eisenhuth 14. Soni Luke 15. Lindsay Smith 16. Spencer Leniu 20. Luke Garner
Team Tips: Origin stars Stephen Crichton, Brian To’o, Jarome Luai, Liam Martin and Isaah Yeo will return for this blockbuster,with Jaeman Salmon to likely start on the bench.
Panthers Press Conference | 06:10
Canberra Raiders vs Gold Coast Titans 3pm AEST at GIO Stadium
Last week’s Raiders team: 1. Sebastian Kris 2. Albert Hopoate 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Matthew Timoko 5. Jordan Rapana 6. Jack Wighton 7. Jamal Fogarty 8. Josh Papali’i 9. Zac Woolford 10. Joseph Tapine 11. Hudson Young 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Corey Horsburgh 14. Tom Starling 15. Emre Guler 16. Nick Cotric 17. Pasami Saulo
Team Tips: Raiders cop a huge blow with Josh Papali’i set to miss at least a couple of weeks with a hamstring injury. Expect Emre Guler to be promoted from the bench. Xavier Savage is being kept out of the side due to the stellar play of the Canberra backline, notably Seb Kris.
Last week’s Titans team: 1. AJ Brimson 2. Alofiana Khan-Pereira 3. Brian Kelly 4. Aaron Schoupp 5. Phillip Sami 6. Kieran Foran 7. Tanah Boyd 8. Moeaki Fotuaika 9. Sam Verrills 16. Jaimin Jolliffe 11. David Fifita 12. Joe Stimson 13. Isaac Liu 14. Jayden Campbell 15. Erin Clark 19. Iszac Fa’asumaleaui 18. Chris Randall
Team Tips: Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, who was rested against the Broncos, will likely be the only change Titans interim coach Jim Lenihan makes.
MORE NRL NEWS
TALKING POINTS: Calls to fix flawed system amid ugly Hunt saga
‘NO REASON FOR IT’: Tedesco’s brutally honest admission as worrying flaw emerges
BIG HITS: Drinkwater masterclass for resurgent Cowboys; Souths’ Achilles heel in slide
Titans take impressive win over Broncos | 02:26
Norths Queensland Cowboys vs Wests Tigers 5.30pm AEST at Queensland Country Bank Stadium
Last week’s Cowboys team: 1. Scott Drinkwater 24. Murray Taulagi 4. Peta Hiku 22. Valentine Holmes 5. Semi Valemei 6. Tom Dearden 7. Chad Townsend 8. Jordan McLean 20. Reece Robson 10. Coen Hess 11. Luciano Leilua 21. Jeremiah Nanai 9. Jake Granville 12. Kulikefu Finefeuiaki 15. Griffin Neame 16. Jamayne Taunoa-Brown 23. Reuben Cotter
Team Tips: Jason Taumalolo (hamstring) is a chance to play after missing the win over Souths. The week prior, he handed in a successful return against Penrith after spending seven weeks on the sideline due to the hamstring injury. Heilum Luki (facial fracture) isn’t expected to return until Round 22.
Round 16 Tigers team: 1. Jahream Bula 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Brent Naden 4. Asu Kepaoa 5. Junior Tupou 6. Starford To’a 7. Brandon Wakeham 8. Fonua Pole 9. Jake Simpkin 10. David Klemmer 11. Isaiah Papali’i 12. Shawn Blore 13. John Bateman 14. Tallyn Da Silva 15. Tommy Talau 16. Alex Twal 17. Alex Seyfarth
Team Tips: According to SMH, Daine Laurie is in line for a return to first grade in the number six jersey. He’ll pair with Brandon Wakeham in the halves. Laurie hasn’t appeared in an NRL game since Round 4. Expect Starford To’a to move back to the centres.
MORE NRL NEWS
‘LATRELL DOESN’T STOP THAT’: Demetriou accuses Souths of getting ‘comfortable’
NRL RICH LIST: The nine big-name players who lead an exodus from top earners
Brisbane Broncos vs Dolphins 7.35pm AEST at The Gabba
Last week’s Broncos team: 1. Reece Walsh 2. Corey Oates 3. Kotoni Staggs 4. Herbie Farnworth 5. Selwyn Cobbo 6. Ezra Mam 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Thomas Flegler 9. Billy Walters 10. Payne Haas 11. Brendan Piakura 12. Jordan Riki 13. Patrick Carrigan 14. Tyson Smoothy 15. Corey Jensen 16. Kobe Hetherington 17. Martin Taupau
Team Tips: Reece Walsh has been referred straight to the judiciary and could be looking at a sideline stint, if he’s suspended Tristan Sailor is expected to play fullback following his stellar club debut earlier this month.
Last week’s Dolphins team: 1. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow 2. Jamayne Isaako 3. Euan Aitken 4. Valynce Te Whare 5. Brayden Mcgrady 6. Kodi Nikorima 19. Sean O’Sullivan 8. Jesse Bromwich 7. Isaiya Katoa 10. Herman Ese’ese 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Kenny Bromwich 13. Ray Stone 14. Josh Kerr 15. Mark Nicholls 16. Connelly Lemuelu 18. Harrison Graham. 18th man: 17. Max Plath
Team Tips: The NRL’s newest side will be boosted by the return of hooker Jeremy Marshall-King (shoulder). Sean O’Sullivan will start at halfback with Isaiya Katoa or Kodi Nikorima to move to the bench, meaning Harrison Graham drops out of the side. Anthony Milford and Jarrod Wallace are one week away from returning from suspensions.
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Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs vs Newcastle Knights 2pm AEST at Accor Stadium
Round 16 Bulldogs team: 1. Hayze Perham 2. Jacob Kiraz 3. Jake Averillo 4. Paul Alamoti 5. Braidon Burns 6. Karl Oloapu 20. Kyle Flanagan 8. Chris Patolo 9. Reed Mahoney 10. Tevita Pangai Junior 11. Jayden Okonbor 12. Jacob Preston 15. Kurtis Morrin 14. Khaled Rajab 16. Max King 17. Corey Waddell 23. Franklin Pele
Team Tips: Raymond Faitala-Mariner (illness)returned via NSW Cup last weekend and played a full 80 minutes, while Harrison Edwards (concussion) should also come back into a Dogs side in desperate need of a win.
Last week’s Knights team: 1. Kalyn Ponga 2. Dominic Young 3. Dane Gagai 4. Bradman Best 5. Greg Marzhew 6. Tyson Gamble 7. Jackson Hastings 8. Daniel Saifiti 9. Phoenix Crossland 10. Leo Thompson 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Dylan Lucas 13. Adam Elliott 14. Kurt Mann 15. Jacob Saifiti 16. Jack Hetherington 17. Mathew Croker
Team Tips: Lachlan Fitzgibbon (concussion) returns with Dylan Lucas expected to drop out of the 17. Jackson Hastings went off with an ankle injury against the Panthers but came back on and finished the game. Coach Adam O’Brien said he pulled up ok.
‘How did the Knights lose?!’ | 00:17
Manly Sea Eagles vs Sydney Roosters 4.05pm AEST at 4 Pines Park
Last week’s Sea Eagles team: 4. Reuben Garrick 21. Ray Tuaimalo-Vaega 3. Tolutau Koula 20. Morgan Harper 5. Christian Tuipulotu 6. Josh Schuster 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Taniela Paseka 9. Lachlan Croker 10. Toafofoa Sipley 11. Haumole Olakau’atu 12. Ethan Bullemor 16. Aaron Woods 13. Sean Keppie 14. Karl Lawton 15. Josh Aloiai 17. Ben Condon
Team Tips: Reuben Garrick will play fullback for the rest of 2023 after Tom Trbojevic’s season ended with a pectoral injury in the opening minutes of Origin II. But Jake Trbojevic, Ben Trbojevic, Jason Saab and Brad Parker will all return this week, while Kelma Tuilagi is a chance after playing reserve grade on Sunday. Aaron Woods will shift back to the bench and Raymond Tuaimalo Vaega will drop out of the 17.
Last week’s Roosters team: 1. James Tedesco 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Billy Smith 4. Joseph Manu 5. Junior Pauga 6. Luke Keary 7. Sandon Smith 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9. Jake Turpin 10. Lindsay Collins 11. Egan Butcher 14. Angus Crichton 13. Victor Radley 15. Nathan Brown 17. Naufahu Whyte 18. Terrell May 19. Drew Hutchison
Team Tips: Joseph Suaalii (suspension) returns with either Billy Smith or Junior Pauga to make way. Sitili Tupouniua was a late scratching in Round 17 after he “woke up with nerve pain” coach Trent Robinson revealed, while Nat Butcher also missed the clash against the Raiders due to an ankle injury. Both players are a chance to return this week. Brandon Smith (thumb) and Sam Walker (knee) are both at least another week away.
Bye: Parramatta Eels