Former rugby league superstar Karmichael Hunt looks set to play his first NRL game in 12 years as he answers an SOS from desperate Broncos coach Kevin Walters.
A struggling Knight faces the axe, while the Warriors prepare to welcome back their star recruit.
Here’s the latest Round 14 team tips and news.
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Manly Sea Eagles vs North Queensland Cowboys at Lottoland, 6pm
Last week’s Sea Eagles team: NA
Team Tips: Tom Trbojevic, Jake Trbojevic, and Daly Cherry-Evans will all be backing up from Origin if Des Hasler decides to play them. Josh Schuster picked up a low grade calf injury at training before Manly’s Round 12 game and was ruled out. According to the club’s physiotherapist it was moreso calf tightness and he should be fit to play on Friday. Kieran Foran is also firming for a return from a hand injury. Curtis Sironen and Dylan Walker are both scheduled to return this round. If Sironen does return Ben Trbojevic is the likely man to make way from the bench.
Last week’s Cowboys team: NA
Team Tips: Val Holmes and Kyle Feldt will be backing up from Origin, while Coen Hess is 18th man for Queensland. Jason Taumalolo and Lachlan Burr return from suspension, while Justin O’Neill is also expected back from a knee injury. Francis Molo should be right to play after suffering a head knock in Round 12.
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Cronulla Sharks vs Penrith Panthers at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, 7.55pm
Last week’s Sharks team: NA
Team Tips: The Sharks welcome back three players from suspension with Josh Dugan, Teig Wilton and Mawene Hiroti all available for selection. Winger Sione Katoa is also due back from a knee injury.
Last week’s Panthers team: 1. Dylan Edwards 2. Charlie Staines 3. Stephen Crichton 4. Paul Momirovski 5. Robert Jennings 6. Matt Burton 7. Tyrone May 8. Spencer Leniu 9. Mitch Kenny 10. James Fisher-Harris 11. Viliame Kikau 12. Scott Sorensen 13. Matthew Eisenhuth 14. Jaeman Salmon 15. J’maine Hopgood 16. Lindsay Smith 17. Izack Tago
Team Tips: The Panthers have six, and possibly seven, stars that may back up from Origin. Nathan Cleary, Jarome Luai, Brian To’o, Isaah Yeo, and Kurt Capewell are all set to play on Wednesday night, while Api Koroisau is also 18th man for NSW. If all manage to back up, last week’s debutants, Lindsay Smith and Izack Tago will drop back to NSW Cup, as will Robert Jennings and Mitch Kenny. Tyrone May will assume his regular bench utility role and Matt Burton will shift back to the centres. Moses Leota will also be a welcome return from suspension and will bump Spencer Leniu back to the bench.
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Gold Coast Titans vs Sydney Roosters at Cbus Super Stadium, 3pm
Last week’s Titans team: 1. Jayden Campbell 20. Greg Marzhew 3. Brian Kelly 4. Patrick Herbert 5. Phillip Sami 6. Ashley Taylor 7. Jamal Fogarty 8. Jarrod Wallace 15. Erin Clark 10. Jaimin Joliffe 11. Kevin Proctor 12. Sam Stone 13. Sam McIntyre 14. Tyrone Peachey 16. Jai Whitbread 17. Joseph Vuna 19. Esan Marsters
Team Tips: David Fifita, Moeaki Fotuaika, AJ Brimson, and Tino Fa’asuamaleaui are all playing Origin on Wednesday. Coach Justin Holbrook said he will “see how they pull up” but hinted that he won’t necessarily rush them into the side, declaring he’s “more than happy with the 17” that challenged the Storm last weekend. Herman Ese’ese’s suspension is up so is available for selection, while Mitch Rein and Anthony Don are a chance of returning after being ruled out of Round 13 with minor injuries. The pair were scratched from the squad last week with Holbrook saying Rein had a “sore shoulder” and Don “has been a bit busted up as well”.
Last week’s Roosters team: NA
Team Tips: James Tedesco is their sole Origin player this year and he may back up to play depending on how he pulls up. Given Joey Manu is more than capable of filling in at fullback, and the fact that Trent Robinson said after their Round 12 win he’d like to get more opportunities for Joseph Suaalii in the centres, Tedesco may be given the weekend off to recover. Hooker Freddy Lussick returned from an arm injury via NSW Cup on the weekend and will likely come into the Roosters’ 17 at the expense of Ben Marschke. Star second-rower Angus Crichton returns from suspension.
South Sydney Rabbitohs vs Newcastle Knights at Stadium Australia, 5.30pm
Last week’s Rabbitohs team: NA
Team Tips: Latrell Mitchell, Damien Cook, Cameron Murray, Dane Gagai, and Jaydn Su’a are all backing up from Origin. Mark Nicholls should be all good to go after suffering a head knock in Round 12. Josh Mansour returned from a concussion last weekend via NSW Cup, while Liam Knight also lined up for the NSW Cup side on the weekend.
Last week’s Knights team: 1. Tex Hoy 2. Starford To’a 3. Enari Tuala 4. Bradman Best 5. Brayden Musgrove 18. Jake Clifford 14. Kurt Mann 8. Sauaso Sue 9. Jayden Brailey 10. Jacob Saifiti 11. Brodie Jones 12. Lachlan Fitzgibbon 13. Mitchell Barnett 6. Connor Watson 15. Josh King 16. Jack Johns 20. Mathew Croker
Team Tips: Daniel Saifiti is their lone Origin representative and could play depending on how he pulls up. In some good news for Adam O’Brien, Lachlan Fitzgibbon and Sauaso Sue are only facing a fine, not a suspension, for their dangerous tackle incidents last Sunday. Kalyn Ponga is unlikely to play as he continues to recover from the groin injury that ruled him out of Origin I. Kurt Mann has been struggling for form and is in danger of losing his spot to the likes of Connor Watson or Phoenix Crossland.
Canberra Raiders vs Brisbane Broncos at GIO Stadium, 7.35pm
Last week’s Raiders team: NA
Team Tips: Jack Wighton is their only Origin representative who will be asked to back up. Josh Papalii will return from a suspension, while Bailey Simonsson (concussion) and Joe Tapine (knee) should be good to go. Curtis Scott has been stood down for an off-field incident with Matthew Timoko the likely man to replace him in the centres.
Last week’s Broncos team: 1. Jamayne Isaako 2. Selwyn Cobbo 3. Herbie Farnworth 4. Jesse Arthars 5. David Mead 6. Albert Kelly 7. Tyson Gamble 8.Matthew Lodge 9. Jake Turpin 10. Thomas Flegler 11. Alex Glenn 12. Tevita Pangai Junior 13. John Asiata 14. Kobe Hetherington15. Keenan Palasia 16. Ethan Bullemor 17. TC Robati
Team Tips: Rumours are swirling Karmichael Hunt will be called in to play his first NRL game since 2009, when he was the Broncos’ fullback. Hunt is likely to be given a crack in the halves after a Round 13 horrorshow in which the Dragons put 52 points on the terrible Broncos. Although Hunt could also replace fullback Jamayne Isaako who had a shocker and was benched late in the game, and coach Kevin Walters is facing another spine shake-up to try ignite his side. Payne Haas and Xavier Coates will need to recover from Origin on Wednesday night but are expected to be named in the Brisbane squad regardless. Kotoni Staggs is nearing a return and could play his first game for the season. He will be considered an option in the halves or fullback, but is more likely to make his comeback at centre. Kobe Hetherington left the field limping last Friday with an ankle injury, however he reportedly trained on Monday is available for selection.
Warriors vs Melbourne Storm at Central Coast Stadium, 2pm
Last week’s Warriors team: NA
Team Tips: In a huge boost for the Warrors, star forward Addin Fonua-Blake is expected to return from a knee injury. Josh Curran (elbow) and Tom Ale (ankle) are also a chance of returning.
Last week’s Storm team: 1. Jayden Campbell 20. Greg Marzhew 3. Brian Kelly 4. Patrick Herbert 5. Phillip Sami 6. Ashley Taylor 7. Jamal Fogarty 8. Jarrod Wallace 15. Erin Clark 10. Jaimin Jolliffe 11. Kevin Proctor 12. Sam Stone 13. Sam McIntyre 14. Tyrone Peachey 16. Jai Whitbread 17. Joseph Vuna 19. Esan Marsters
Team Tips: Josh Addo-Carr, Felise Kaufusi, Cameron Munster, Harry Grant, and Christian Welch may be called on to back-up from Origin. Coach Craig Bellamy will need his Origin stars given two of his players are facing suspensions and another picked up an injury. Nelson Asofa-Solomona is facing a one-week ban for a contrary conduct charge unless he is successful at the judiciary, while Reimis Smith is looking at two weeks on the sideline for a careless high tackle. Kenny Bromwich went off in the first half last week with a rib cartilage injury with Bellamy saying after the game: “I don’t think we’ll be seeing him for a couple of weeks”. Ryan Papenhuyzen won’t return this week with Bellamy revealing there’s “still a big question mark” over him — but “he’s not too far away”.
Parramatta Eels vs Wests Tigers at Bankwest Stadium, 4.05pm
Last week’s Eels team: 1. Clinton Gutherson 2. Maika Sivo 3. Tom Opacic 4. Waqa Blake 5. Haze Dunster 6. Dylan Brown 7. Mitchell Moses 8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 9. Reed Mahoney 10. Marata Niukore 11. Isaiah Papali’i 12. Ryan Matterson 13. Nathan Brown 14. Will Smith 15. Shaun Lane 16. Oregon Kaufusi 17. Bryce Cartwright. 18th man: 19. Makahesi Makatoa
Team Tips: Junior Paulo will be backing up from Origin. Reed Mahoney injured his shoulder on Sunday and will miss “a couple of weeks” according to the coach. Joey Lussick looms as the replacement hooker, but Nathaniel Roache is also a chance of a call-up for the role. Mitchell Moses finished Round 13 on the bench but he is not injured and will be fit to play this week. Keegan Hipgrave returns from suspension this week.
Last week’s Tigers team: 1. Daine Laurie 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Adam Doueihi 4. Tommy Talau 5. James Roberts 6. Moses Mbye 7. Luke Brooks 8. James Tamou 9. Jacob Liddle 10. Alex Twal 11. Luke Garner 12. Luciano Leilua 13. Alex Seyfarth 14. Stefano Utoikamanu 15. Shawn Blore 16. Tom Amone 17. Thomas Mikaele
Team Tips: Joe Ofahengaue is their only Origin player. Moses Mbye and Thomas Mikaele both injured their knees in Round 13 and will be racing the clock to be available. Don’t expect many unforced changes given their impressive win over Penrith.
Canterbury Bulldogs vs St George Illawarra Dragons at Stadium Australia, 4pm
Last week’s Bulldogs teams: NA
Team Tips: The cavalry is due to arrive for the struggling Bulldogs with Sione Katoa and Chris Smith back from suspension, and Jeremy Marshall-King (foot), Lachlan Lewis (ribs), and Corey Allan (shoulder) all nearing injury returns.
Last week’s Dragons team: 1. Matthew Dufty 2. Cody Ramsey 3. Brayden Wiliame 4. Gerard Beale 5. Mikaele Ravalawa 6. Corey Norman 7. Ben Hunt 8. BlakeLawrie 9. Andrew McCullough 10. Paul Vaughan 11. Josh Kerr 12. Jack Bird 13. Jackson Ford 14. Talatau Amone 15. Poasa Faamausili 16. Daniel Alvaro 17. Jack de Belin
Team Tips: Tariq Sims is backing up from Origin but has the benefit of a longer turnaround. Max Feagai (concussion) and Zac Lomax (thumb) are both racing the clock and likely to be named in the squad this week. Jack Bird’s switch from centre to the backrow was successful and he is facing a permanent move infield.