Lone Scout: What to make of the extended benches
With most teams naming extended benches for Round 5's games, who will play? More importantly, how will it affect your Dream Team?
NRL.com's Lone Scout has the answers...
If the arrival of this week's extended benches is any indication, the injury niggles are well and truly affecting team selections now. Here's a quick crib on the likely shape of the benches at game-time.
Be warned, this is educated guesswork, so Dream Team coaches should remember to leave it out, if in doubt. That means save your trade if there's any uncertainty. You'll appreciate the restraint in the long-run.
Scott Bolton is back. Does that mean no place for Tariq or Ashton Sims? Winterstein's inclusion may point to Will Tupou making way.
Scott Prince has been named, but may not play. Nathan Friend is also named, but is likely to have shortened game-time (Riley Brown is on the bench). Luke O'Dwyer should drop off the extended bench. Ashley Harrison (hamstring) is listed to return in Round 7, but is rumoured to be under consideration. If he plays Ben Ridge may drop out of the squad.
They've picked a standard four-man bench, so let's talk Robbie Farah. He wants to keep going and has the pedigree to play in pain, but who knows what his future is? Will play this round, but is a week-to-week proposition, especially when Ellis, Fulton etc return in coming rounds.
Sam Burgess needs to pass the same fitness test he failed last week. Stay tuned to Friday's late mail for more news on him. If he fails Souths will have a repeat of last week, with Mick Crocker into starting side. Mail is that Dylan Farrell is a question mark, as is Rhys Wesser.
Matt Robinson is the 18th man, so barring the unexpected he will drop off the Warriors' bench.
Assuming Jason Ryles and Frank-Paul Nuuausala are properly recovered from what ailed them last week, expect Daniel Conn and Tinirau Arona to drop off the Roosters' bench. Be wary of Phil Graham replacing Justin Carney.
On past form Mannah sits, but Johnny may get the bench seat ahead of Dean Collis if the advertised forwards bash-fest is part of the game plan (it worked against the Dragons).
Tony Williams is there as cover for Brett Stewart and George Rose who have niggles.
You tell me! The Pennies have problems, so I reckon Matt Elliot is keeping his options open until the last minute. Only Matthew Bell looks to have a safe bench spot.
With Blake Ferguson named at fullback, reserve No.1 David Milne and James Stuart seem the obvious names to be taken off the six-man bench.
Tough call this one. The Storm are travelling well so Anthony Quinn is likely just there as cover for the last-minute issue. Like last round, Jaiman Lowe should also play elsewhere.
Four named on the bench, but there may be a late call-up to replace Casey McGuire who is still in some doubt.
It's getting predictable Wayne. Michael Greenfield, Adam Cuthbertson and Mitch Rein slide off.
Chris Armit looks most likely to drop off, but Sam Kasiano or Jake Foster may be due a 'rest' from the big show.
I suspect there are some niggles up north, but that Dane Carlaw and Nick Kenny are named only as confirmation they're close to getting a run, and are likely to make way if no last-minute injuries occur. Be warned Griffin may pull a switch-aroo with one of them for Josh McGuire or Shane Tronc, just because he can. Corey Norman will not feature unless Hodges has to pull out.
Four men named. Easy one ... and the Knights don't have too many extras anyway.