Ins & Outs: Round 23
North Queensland v Brisbane at Dairy Farmers Stadium, Friday night, 7.35pm
The return of Johnathan Thurston and Matthew Scott will ensure Friday night’s game in Townsville is one of the blockbuster clashes of the season. Apart from the hype surrounding Darren Lockyer’s record-breaking 350th first grade appearance, a place in the top four is up for grabs. The Cowboys can return to the top four with a win by at least three points while the Broncos will go four competition points clear of the Cowboys if they get up. A hip injury has ruled out Brisbane prop Ben Hannant.
IN: Kalifa Faifai-Loa, Johnathan Thurston, Matthew Scott
OUT: Will Tupou, Ben Jones, Cory Paterson
IN: David Hala
OUT: Ben Hannant
Penrith v Wests Tigers at Centrebet Stadium, Friday night, 7.35pm
Michael Jennings will play fullback for the first time in his NRL career as the Panthers try to end a three-game losing streak when they meet the Wests Tigers at Centrebet Stadium. The other significant news for the Panthers is that lock Luke Lewis has been left out of Friday night’s team because of a shoulder injury. Mitch Brown has been chosen as Chris Lawrence’s replacement at left centre for the Tigers.
IN: Junior Vaivai, Harry Siejka, Dayne Weston
OUT: Ryan Walker, Luke Lewis, Masada Iosefa
IN: Mitch Brown
OUT: Chris Lawrence
Warriors v Newcastle at Mt Smart Stadium, Saturday night, 7.30pm (NZ)
Centre Joel Moon returns for the Warriors after missing last Saturday night’s one-point loss to the Broncos, while Tongan forward Ukuma Ta’ai is back after a lengthy stint on the sidelines with a knee injury. Rookie Elijah Taylor has been rested. Hard-running prop Richard Fa’aoso is back for the Knights after missing two weeks with a hamstring strain.
IN: Joel Moon, Ukuma Ta’ai
OUT: Lewis Brown, Elijah Taylor
IN: Richard Fa’aoso
OUT: Keith Lulia
Gold Coast v Melbourne at Skilled Park, Saturday night, 7.30pm
The loss of Scott Prince for the rest of the season with a broken arm will not help the Titans in their bid to avoid their first wooden spoon. Former Dally M winner Preston Campbell moves from the bench to halfback while veteran Clinton Toopi wins a recall to the 17. The only change for the Storm is in the front row where Jesse Bromwich returns from an injured elbow for Adam Woolnough (Achilles).
IN: Clinton Toopi
OUT: Scott Prince
IN: Jesse Bromwich
OUT: Adam Woolnough
Parramatta v Manly at Parramatta Stadium, Saturday night, 7.30pm
Parramatta coach Stephen Kearney resisted making wholesale changes to his team following their 56-6 pasting at the hands of the Rabbitohs last Monday night. Jordan Atkins and Reni Maitua return from injury and illness for Chris Hicks and Rory Brien. Michael Robertson has recovered from concussion to regain his place on the wing for Manly, while promising youngster Darcy Lussick is added to the Sea Eagles squad for the injured Jason King (pectoral).
IN: Jordan Atkins, Reni Maitua
OUT: Chris Hicks, Rory Brien
IN: Michael Robertson, Darcy Lussick
OUT: Michael Oldfield, Jason King
Canberra v Souths at Canberra Stadium, Sunday, 2pm
Injury has again forced the hand of Canberra coach David Furner with forwards Glen Buttriss (pectoral, season) and Dane Tilse (quad, three-four weeks) added to a lengthy list. Winger Daniel Vidot has been given the week off on compassionate grounds. Five-try hero Nathan Merritt retains his place at fullback in an unchanged Rabbitohs line-up.
IN: Reece Robinson, Bronson Harrison, Sam Mataora
OUT: Daniel Vidot, Glen Buttriss, Dane Tilse
St George Illawarra v Sydney Roosters at WIN Stadium, Sunday, 3pm
The Dragons and the Roosters initially named unchanged line-ups for Sunday’s clash at WIN Stadium, before the Roosters announced Todd Carney, Frank-Paul Nuuausala and Nate Myles would be stood down for a week following this week’s alcohol-related incident. Nuuausala was already out of the Roosters side through suspension. There is some doubt over whether Dragons five-eighth Jamie Soward will play this week, despite being named, due to a back injury.
St George Illawarra
OUT: Todd Carney, Nate Myles
Cronulla v Canterbury at Toyota Stadium, Monday night, 7pm
Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan has made a series of changes to his team beaten 20-16 by the Titans last Saturday night. Matthew Wright, Taulima Tautai, Josh Cordoba and Paul Aiton make way for Nathan Gardner, Jayson Bukuya, Albert Kelly and Colin Best, who will play his 100th game for the club. Captain Paul Gallen’s selection depends on his judiciary appearance tonight. The Bulldogs have named Josh Reynolds at hooker for the suspended Joel Romelo while Mickey Paea returns to the top grade for the first time since Round 10.
IN: Nathan Gardner, Jayson Bukuya, Albert Kelly, Colin Best
OUT: Matthew Wright, Taulima Tautai, Josh Cordoba, Paul Aiton
IN: Ben Roberts, Mickey Paea
OUT: Joel Romelo, Trent Cutler