Team changes: Gaz out for Dragons, right for NSW

Twelve months ago today news broke that Mark Gasnier was returning to the NRL. Now he is on the verge of returning to Origin football, with scans on his injured ankle clearing the way for him to play for the Blues in a fortnight – but not for the Dragons this Friday.

Fortunately for Gasnier it appears that NSW coach Ricky Stuart has seen enough to know last Sunday's Man of the Match against the Cowboys is more than ready to return to the Blues, who he last played for in 2008 before his 18-month stint in the French rugby union competition. 

“Gasnier had his scans and he has a small tear in one of his ankle ligaments which will keep him out for a week,” Dragons performance director Jeremy Hickmans said on Tuesday.

“He’ll be healed and available by the time the club returns from the bye round or for State of Origin if he is selected into the NSW Blues team."

Speaking on OneHD's "One Week at a Time" program on Monday, Stuart said Gasnier would not have to play against the Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium in this Friday night's round 10 clash to confirm his Origin selection – a strong indication that he will be part of the Blues revival.

Stuart will name the NSW team on Sunday night, meaning the Titans and Sea Eagles, who will play at the Gold Coast on Monday night, have had their last chance to press for selection consideration.

Others like Bulldogs hooker Michael Ennis, who missed the City-Country "Origin trial" because of injury, will have one last opportunity to play his way into a Blues spot, coming up against fellow Origin possible Dean Young on Friday night.

The Dragons welcome back fullback Darius Boyd and five-eighth Jamie Soward from inury, while news is not so good for teammate Bronx Goodwin who will need to wear a brace for 8-12 weeks.

For the Bulldogs, Jake Foster replaces Grant Millington in the only change to the Canterbury-Bankstown side. Millington suffered elbow ligament damage early in the Bulldogs round eight clash against the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium, paving the way for Foster – who has featured in five of the Bulldogs' eight games for 2011 – to return via the interchange bench following the side’s round nine bye.

In the other Friday night game between the Panthers and Broncos at Penrith's Centrebet Stadium, Brisbane's Test stars have all been named to return after they were rested against the Storm last weekend.

Kangaroos centre Justin Hodges missed training yesterday beacuse of the 'flu but is expected to start for Brisbane, while the Panthers are well-rested coming off a bye and are boosted by the return of NSW Origin hopeful Luke Lewis after five weeks on the sidelines with a broken thumb.

On Saturday, star fullback Jarryd Hayne returns from a two-game suspension to the Eels line-up for their clash against the Cowboys in Towsville.

Coach Steve Kearney has made minimal changes to the Parramatta side which lost their last encounter in round eight against the Dragons, with Ben Smith coming into the starting side at lock and Luke Burt reverting to the wing.

The Canberra Raiders will welcome back fullback Josh Dugan for the clash against the Melbourne Storm at Olympic Park on Saturday night. Dugan missed Monday night’s 20-0 loss to the Manly Sea Eagles, their club record-equalling eighth successive loss, with an infection to a boil under his armpit. 

Raiders second-row forward Sam Mataora has retained his place after his first match for Canberra this season, with Tom Learoyd-Lahrs hopeful of only missing this weekend’s match with a fractured eye-socket.  

Storm coach Craig Bellamy has made three changes for this weekend. Maurice Blair holds onto his spot in the centres following Beau Champion’s dislocated shoulder sustained playing for City Origin; Matt Duffie comes back into the side at the expense of Sisa Waqa on the wing; and Todd Lowrie comes back into the side with Rory Kostjasyn named on an extended interchange bench. 

In the other Saturday match, the Rabbitohs have named Rhys Wesser to return at fullback against the Tigers at ANZ Stadium. Shaune Corrigan has been named in the centres to replace Greg Inglis (hip injury) and Shannan McPherson will start in the front row for the injured Roy Asotasi (hand/wrist). Michael Crocker will captain the Rabbitohs in the absence of Asotasi.

Ben Murdoch-Masila, named on the bench, is the only change for the Wests Tigers, who are without the likes of Bryce Gibbs, Gareth Ellis and Todd Payten through injury.

On Sunday, Knights second-rower Neville Costigan makes a welcome return following a broken arm in round two for their round 10 clash with the Warriors at Newcastle's Ausgrid Stadium. 

Hooker Aaron Heremaia is set to return in the only line-up change for the Warriors, after a family tragedy saw him miss the team's fifth win in six matches and his first game since 2009. 

Todd Carney's comeback following his indefinite suspension three weeks ago is a timely boost for a Roosters side hoping to avoid a fifth-straight loss when they face the Sharks at Toyota Park on Sunday afternoon.

Roosters coach Brian Smith has delivered on his promise to wield the axe after his side's capitulation against the Gold Coast, with winger Steve Naughton and centre Kane Linnett getting well-earned call-ups from feeder club Newtown. 

On Monday night, Titans prop Luke Bailey will celebrate his re-signing with the club this week by returning to the line-up against the Sea Eagles at Skilled Park.

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