Dally M-winning Roosters five-eighth Todd Carney has been switched to halfback this weekend for what looms as a season-defining game for the 2010 grand finalists who are just one loss away from crashing to the bottom of the Telstra Premiership ladder.

While Carney and his Newcastle opposite Jarrod Mullen were overlooked for the Origin opener next week, the pair will play a pivotal role for their sides this Sunday when they clash at the SFS in their split round 11 fixture. 

While the 14th-placed Roosters (two wins, seven losses) could join the Raiders at the bottom of the ladder with another loss, a win would see the ninth-placed Knights (4-5) move into the eight.

Approaching the halfway mark of the 24-game season, just one win separates seven of the bottom nine teams, with three teams (Wests Tigers, Knights and Rabbitohs) on a 4-5 win-loss record and the other four teams (Sharks, Panthers, Eels, Titans) 3-6.

The Roosters, who won the wooden spoon just two years ago with a 5-19 win-loss record, before a massive turnaround last year (14-10), have a tough road ahead to turn their season around with their next three games against top-six teams the Cowboys, Warriors and Storm.

Carney has been named at halfback in place of Mitchell Pearce, who is on Origin duty, with captain Braith Anasta remaining at five-eighth for this weekend's battle with the Knights.

In other team news, Bulldogs hooker Josh Reynolds will make his NRL debut against Canberra on Friday night as NSW representative Michael Ennis' replacement.

Their opponents will again be without halfback Matt Orford (groin), with Sam Williams starting in the No.7 jersey, while young fullback Nathan Massey has been called up to fill the void left by Blues' No.1 Josh Dugan.

For Saturday's only match in the split round, the 12th-placed Panthers received some good news with fullback Lachlan Coote named to make his NRL return from an osteitis pubis injury against the eighth-placed Wests Tigers at Campbelltown.

For the Tigers, prop Bryce Gibbs returns from an ankle injury and has been named on a five-man interchange bench.

On Sunday, the Rabbitohs have named an unchanged line-up for their clash with the Warriors at Mount Smart Satdium, with South Sydney flyer Nathan Merritt set to play his 150th NRL game for the club.

Kiwi international Ben Matulino has been named to start in the front row for the Warriors in place of experienced teammate Jacob Lillyman, who is unavailable after being recalled to the Queensland side for the opening match of this year’s State of Origin series.

Lewis Brown has been listed to start in the centres with Aaron Heremaia back as starting hooker, after missing the last two games following a family tragedy.

In the final match of the round between the Eels and Sharks at Parramatta Stadium on Monday, youngster Ryan Morgan will replace Eels centre Joel Reddy, who looks certain to miss the rest of the season with a pectoral injury.

Morgan re-joins the side after recovering from an ankle injury that has kept him off the field since round three, while Carl Webb returns to the top side for the first time since injuring his calf in the team’s round four clash against the Cowboys.

Tim Mannah’s selection for the NSW Blues sees Shane Shackleton move into the starting line-up, and five-eighth Daniel Mortimer will play his 50th game.

The Sharks have named Josh Cordoba and Taulima Tautai in place of their Origin stars Kade Snowden and captain Paul Gallen.

Colin Best will co-captain the side with John Morris, who makes a timely return from knee surgery which saw him miss the Sharks' last five matches.