It’ll be a nervous wait on the eve of the finals for Broncos fans with Adam Reynolds to miss this week’s clash against the Raiders with a calf injury. He’s no certainty for the next week either, with the star half to be monitored by the team doctors.
Roosters fullback James Tedesco will miss his side’s must win clash against the Tigers after suffering a head knock in the win over the Eels.
Manly coach Anthony Seibold will reportedly drop five-eighth Josh Schuster to reserve grade in a huge shake-up.
Meanwhile, the Panthers are expected to welcome back a couple of key outside backs as they strive for a minor premiership.
Read on for the NRL Team Tips for Round 26.
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Penrith Panthers vs Parramatta Eels at BlueBet Stadium, 7.50pm AEST
Last week’s Panthers team: 1. Dylan Edwards 2. Sunia Turuva 3. Tyrone Peachey 4. Stephen Crichton 21. Thomas Jenkins 6. Jarome Luai 7. Nathan Cleary 8. Moses Leota 18. Jack Cogger 10. James Fisher-Harris 20. Zac Hosking 12. Liam Martin 13. Isaah Yeo 14. Soni Luke 15. Lindsay Smith 22. Spencer Leniu 19. Luke Garner 17. Jaeman Salmon
Team Tips: Panthers coach Ivan Cleary has confirmed winger Brian To’o will return for Thursday’s match against Parramatta after he was rested last week. Tom Jenkins will drop out of the side. Mitch Kenny is expected to play after missing the last two games. Izack Tago (leg) hasn’t played since Round 20 but should return before the finals. He’ll replace Tyrone Peachey in the centres when he does.
Last week’s Eels team: 1. Clinton Gutherson 2. Maika Sivo 3. Viliami Penisini 4. Bailey Simonsson 5. Sean Russell 6. Daejarn Asi 7. Dylan Brown 8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 9. Joey Lussick 10. Junior Paulo 11. J’maine Hopgood 12. Bryce Cartwright 13. Joe Ofahengaue 14. Luca Moretti 15. Ryan Matterson 16. Wiremu Greig 17. Brendan Hands
Team Tips: The Eels’ season is over after the loss to the Roosters, meaning coach Brad Arthur could wield the axe and make some changes. Their forward pack will be bolstered as Shaun Lane (elbow) is due to return this week, but because of his unfortunate injury run this season, the Eels may elect to err on the side of caution with him. Andrew Davey is back after missing one game due to concussion protocols.
Warriors vs St George Illawarra Dragons at Daniel Anderson Stadium, 6.00pm AEST
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 16. Bayley Sironen 17. Josh Curran 21. Freddy Lussick
Team Tips: Wayde Egan (hamstring) left the Sea Eagles game but coach Andrew Webster said that was precautionary. “He’s pulled up really good… honestly we think he’s no drama at all,” Webster said. Jazz Tevaga was ruled out before kick off last week. Webster says Tevaga won’t play against the Dragons. “Scans will tell us more but we don’t think the season is over or anything, we think it’s positive news.” Mitch Barnett is slated to return from a knee injury. If he does, Bayley Sironen likely makes way.
Last week’s Dragons team: 1. Tyrell Sloan 2. Mathew Feagai 3. Moses Suli 22. Max Feagai 5. Mikaele Ravalawa 6. Talatau Amone 7. Ben Hunt 8. Francis Molo 14. Connor Muhleisen 10. Blake Lawrie 11. Billy Burns 12. Dan Russell 13. Michael Molo 9. Jacob Liddle 15. Ryan Couchman 16. Ben Murdoch-Masila 17. Zane Musgrove 18. Toby Couchman 21. Paul Turner
Team Tips: The Dragons have been hit hard by injuries of late but could be boosted by the return of Zac Lomax (shoulder).
Dolphins vs North Queensland Cowboys at Suncorp Stadium, 8.00pm AEST
Last week’s Dolphins team: 1. Kodi Nikorima 2. Jamayne Isaako 3. Jack Bostock 4. Robert Jennings 5. Tesi Niu 6. Isaiya Katoa 7. Sean O’Sullivan 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Harrison Graham 10. Herman Ese’ese 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Euan Aitken 13. Mark Nicholls 14. JJ Collins 15. Josh Kerr 17. Jarrod Wallace 18. Trai Fuller 22. Valynce Te Whare
Team Tips: The Dolphins are limping to the finish line. They were decimated by injuries last week, with three players (Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, Connelly Lemuelu and Kenny Bromwich) out after failing HIA’s the week prior. Those three will be back on deck with one of either Jack Bostock and Robert Jennings dropping out as well as Josh Kerr and JJ Collins. Trai Fuller played well on debut, receiving high praise from Wayne Bennett post-game.
Last week’s Cowboys team: 1. Scott Drinkwater 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Murray Taulagi 4. Peta Hiku 5. Semi Valemei 6. Tom Dearden 7. Chad Townsend 8. Jordan McLean 9. Reece Robson 10. Jason Taumalolo 11. Luciano Leilua 12. Jeremiah Nanai 13. Reuben Cotter 14. Jake Granville 15. Coen Hess 16. Heilum Luki 17. Griffin Neame 18. Jamayne Taunoa-Brown
Team Tips: Jeremiah Nanai returned from a shoulder injury against the Sharks a couple of weeks earlier than expected and played 70 minutes, but did need a few needles to get through the game. Todd Payten’s men were soundly beaten last week so perhaps a few changes are in the works. Heilum Luki could be in line to regain a starting role.
Monster hit sees Storm survive scare | 00:44
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Melbourne Storm vs Gold Coast Titans at AAMI Park, 3.00pm AEST
Last week’s Storm team: 1. Nick Meaney 5. Xavier Coates 3. Marion Seve 4. Young Tonumaipea 19. William Warbrick 6. Cameron Munster 7. Jahrome Hughes 8. Tui Kamikamica 9. Harry Grant 10. Christian Welch 11. Trent Loiero 12. Eliesa Katoa 13. Josh King 14. Bronson Garlick 15. Tom Eisenhuth 16. Tepai Moeroa 17. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 2. Reimis Smith
Team Tips: Will Warbrick starred against the Dragons after missing a game (neck). The Storm are pretty healthy at the moment, and will likely name the same side. Storm legend Cameron Smith, however, has urged Craig Bellamy to pick fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen this week. The Storm are in fourth spot but risk dropping below fifth.
“He’s had two and a half games back in the Queensland Cup and he performed quite well again on the weekend, you’d like to think his confidence is slowly building,” Smith said on SEN 1170 Breakfast.
“I think they have to throw him in, at some stage he has to go in and I don’t think there’s a better time than this week, they take on the Titans in Melbourne.
“After that, they finish with the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium, we know where the Broncos are at, at the moment they’re flying, they’ll be very confident, and they’ve got a big aggressive football side.
“Maybe this week is the opportunity to put Papenhuyzen in.”
Storm general manager of football Frank Ponissi also revealed that he is a “chance” to take the field.
“There has been no decision made and won’t be until (Tuesday). He’s a chance, but not guaranteed,” Ponissi said to The Daily Telegraph.
Last week’s Titans team: 19. AJ Brimson 2. Alofiana Khan-Pereira 3. Brian Kelly 4. Aaron Schoupp 5. Phillip Sami 6. Jayden Campbell 7. Thomas Weaver 8. Moeaki Fotuaika 9. Chris Randall 15. Isaac Liu 11. David Fifita 12. Klese Haas 13. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui 10. Jaimin Jolliffe 14. Kruise Leeming 16. Joe Stimson 17. Jacob Alick 1. Keano Kini
Team Tips: Livewire Jayden Campbell has escaped an ACL but will likely miss the rest of the season with the Titans medical team believing he may have only suffered a patellar subluxation. “Hopefully it’s just a sublux with his knee cap which is the best case scenario,” Lenihan said post-match. “There was a bit of fear that it could have been his ACL, but obviously we’ll have to see with scans… fingers crossed it’s not the worst.” Kieran Foran is likely back from a sternum injury. Outside back Phil Sami left the Panthers loss early. “Maybe he’s done his Lisfranc… so could be a little bit of time off just depending on how bad it is, so we’ll just have see how we go and assess,” Lenihan said. Jojo Fifita (ankle) will replace Sami if fit enough. Halfback Tom Weaver impressed on debut and has warranted another start.
Sydney Roosters vs Wests Tigers at Allianz Stadium, 5.30pm AEST
Last week’s Roosters team: 1. James Tedesco 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Billy Smith 4. Joseph Manu 5. Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii 6. Luke Keary 7. Drew Hutchison 15. Fletcher Baker 9. Brandon Smith 10. Lindsay Collins 11. Siua Wong 12. Nat Butcher 13. Victor Radley 14. Sandon Smith 16. Terrell May 17. Angus Crichton 19. Dylan Napa
Team Tips: There may be mass changes coming for the Roosters, led by Joey Manu shifting to fullback in place of James Tedesco, who will miss one week after suffering a head knock against Parramatta. Sam Walker has impressed coach Trent Robinson in the NSW Cup since returning from injury. Importantly, he played the whole 80 minutes without issue last week. He hasn’t featured in an NRL game since Round 7 but could be in line for a recall against the Tigers. Front-rower Jared Waerea-Hargreaves will be another big addition for the Tricolours after missing last week’s win because of neck pain. Egan Butcher (head knock) returns after missing a week.
Last week’s Tigers team: 1. Jahream Bula 2. David Nofoaluma 20. Triston Reilly 4. Asu Kepaoa 5. Junior Tupou 6. Daine Laurie 9. Apisai Koroisau 8. Stefano Utoikamanu 14. Jake Simpkin 16. Alex Twal 11. Isaiah Papali’i 12. John Bateman 13. Fonua Pole 10. David Klemmer 15. Alex Seyfarth 17. Shawn Blore 18. Justin Matamua
Team Tips: The Tigers stopped a ten-game slide with a narrow victory over the Dolphins. Luke Brooks could return after missing the Dolphins game with a calf issue, but will likely need another week. Triston Reilly debuted in the centres and did an admirable job. He could keep his spot over Starford To’a.
Rapana in hot water for late knees | 00:40
Canberra Raiders vs Brisbane Broncos at GIO Stadium, 7.35pm AEST
Last week’s Raiders team: 1. Jordan Rapana 2. Albert Hopoate 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Matthew Timoko 5. Nick Cotric 19. Matt Frawley 7. Jamal Fogarty 15. Emre Guler 9. Zac Woolford 10. Joseph Tapine 11. Hudson Young 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Corey Horsburgh 8. Josh Papali’i 14. Tom Starling 16. James Schiller 17. Ata Mariota 18. Trey Mooney
Team Tips: Jack Wighton (hamstring) was a late scratching against the Bulldogs. “From what the doctors tell me, Jack will be available, absolutely. He’ll be back, yeah. The reason we rested him this weekend was to make sure he’d be 100 per cent next week so he’ll definitely be back,” coach Ricky Stuart said. An interesting move was Stuart electing to start Emre Guler with Josh Papali’i coming off the bench. Both were very good against the Bulldogs, Papali’i especially so the Raiders could go with that tactic again. Xavier Savage starred in the NSW Cup last week with a hat-trick and has put his hand up for a recall. The door has opened up for him with Albert Hopoate in doubt with a rib injury. Corey Horsburgh left the Bulldogs win after suffering a head knock so is in some doubt. Jordan Rapana escaped suspension for sliding knees first into a tackle on Sunday.
Round 24 Broncos team:
Team Tips: Huge news out of Red Hill over the weekend with star halfback Adam Reynolds to miss at least one game with a calf injury. In a statement released by the club, Broncos Head of Performance Dave Ballard said: “Adam was sore in his calf after yesterday’s training session at Red Hill. At this stage of the season we will take a cautious approach and have Adam work through his rehab over the coming week. He will miss the game in Canberra before we look to the Storm game the following Thursday.” Jock Madden will start at halfback. Jesse Arthars (head knock) is back after missing a week. Martin Taupau is eligible for selection after serving out a three-game suspension.
Canterbury Bulldogs vs Manly Sea Eagles at Accor Stadium, 2.00pm AEST
Last week’s Bulldogs team: 1. Jake Averillo 2. Blake Wilson 3. Jacob Kiraz 4. Braidon Burns 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Matt Burton 7. Toby Sexton 15. Luke Thompson 9. Reed Mahoney 10. Liam Knight 11. Viliame Kikau 12. Corey Waddell 16. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 8. Max King 14. Kyle Flanagan 17. Tevita Pangai Junior 19. Harrison Edwards Jayden Okunbor
Team Tips: Raymond Faitala-Mariner missed Sunday’s loss vs. Canberra when he injured his hamstring in the warm up. He and Ryan Sutton are chances of playing. Jayden Okunbor and Corey Waddell could be the two to make way.
Last week’s Sea Eagles team: 1. Reuben Garrick 2. Jason Saab 3. Tolutau Koula 4. Morgan Harper 5. Ray Tuaimalo-Vaega 14. Jakob Arthur 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Toafofoa Sipley 9. Lachlan Croker 10. Sean Keppie 11. Haumole Olakau’atu 12. Kelma Tuilagi 13. Jake Trbojevic 6. Josh Schuster 15. Dean Matterson 16. Aaron Woods 17. Ethan Bullemor
Team Tips: Josh Schuster is reportedly set to be axed and sent back to reserve grade only a week after he was shifted to the bench. Jake Arthur played well at five-eighth replacing Schuster and according to The Daily Telegraph, he will be named in the No.21 jersey and won’t feature in the first grade side. His sacking marks the second time in 2023 has been stood down by Seibold and he recently penned a bumper three-year extension worth $2.4 million. The Sea Eagles welcome back Ben Trbojevic and Brad Arthur after they missed a week due to concussion protocols. Arthur will replace Morgan Harper in the centres. Reuben Garrick, who injured his back after landing on it heavily, is in some doubt of lining up.
Newcastle Knights vs Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium, 4.05pm AEST
Last week’s Knights team: 1. Kalyn Ponga 2. Dominic Young 3. Dane Gagai 4. Bradman Best 5. Greg Marzhew 6. Tyson Gamble 20. Adam Clune 8. Jacob Saifiti 9. Phoenix Crossland 10. Leo Thompson 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Lachlan Fitzgibbon 13. Adam Elliott 14. Kurt Mann 15. Daniel Saifiti 16. Jack Hetherington 17. Mathew Croker 21. Brodie Jones
Team Tips: Adam Clune was solid leading the Knights around the park in the win over the Rabbitohs but first choice half Jackson Hastings is set to return. Coach Adam O’Brien has said Hastings will be named and that the swelling in his ankle has gone down. Lachlan Fitzgibbon jarred his shoulder but O’Brien is confident he’ll play.
Last week’s Sharks team: 1. Connor Tracey 2. Sione Katoa 3. Jesse Ramien 4. Siosifa Talakai 5. Ronaldo Mulitalo 6. Braydon Trindall 7. Nicho Hynes 8. Toby Rudolf 9. Blayke Brailey 10. Braden Hamlin-Uele 11. Briton Nikora 12. Wade Graham 13. Cameron McInnes 14. Jack Williams 15. Royce Hunt 16. Thomas Hazelton 17. Matt Moylan 20. Jesse Colquhoun
Team Tips: Craig Fitzgibbon is likely to name the same 17 that handily defeated the Cowboys in Townsville. Connor Tracey has been a revelation at the back and the halves pairing of Braydon Trindall and Nicho Hynes are pulling all the right reins at the moment.
Bye: South Sydney Rabbitohs