Ins & Outs: Qualifying Finals
Wests Tigers v St George Illawarra at ANZ Stadium, Friday night, September 9, 7.45pn
After a month on the sidelines with a hamstring injury, centre Chris Lawrence will be reunited with Test winger Lote Tuqiri on the Wests Tigers’ left edge for Friday night’s opening qualifying final with St George Illawarra for only the second time since Round 4. The pair were instrumental in Wests Tigers boasting one of the most lethal left side partnerships in the competition last season but both have been beset with injuries throughout 2011. They teamed up in the Tigers’ 19-12 win over the Roosters in Round 20 before Tuqiri tore a quadriceps muscle. Before he returned, Lawrence damaged a hamstring in the Round 22 win over the Dragons. Beau Ryan and Keith Galloway are also slated to return for the Tigers, while Jon Green, who missed last Friday night’s win over the Panthers has been included on an extended bench for the Dragons.
IN: Beau Ryan, Chris Lawrence, Keith Galloway
OUT: Matthew Utai, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Wade McKinnon
St George Illawarra
IN: Jon Green
OUT: Mitch Rein
Brisbane Broncos v Warriors at Suncorp Stadium, Saturday night, September 10, 6.30pm
It was positive news for the Warriors when they named their squad for Saturday night’s qualifying final against Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium. Damaging winger Manu Vatuvei returns after missing a fortnight with a wrist injury while hooker Aaron Heremaia (hand) and experienced centre Shaun Berrigan (hip) are back after both missed last weekend’s win over the Cowboys. The news was not as encouraging for the Broncos, who have lost fullback Josh Hoffman for the rest of the season (knee) and Dally M second-rower of the year Sam Thaiday for a fortnight (suspended). The return of Test centre Justin Hodges will add strength to the three-quarters.
IN: Dale Copley, Justin Hodges, David Hala
OUT: Josh Hoffman, Sam Thaiday, Mitchell Dodds
IN: Shaun Berrigan, Manu Vatuvei, Aaron Heremaia
OUT: Krisnan Inu, Alehana Mara, Ukuma Ta'ai
Manly-Warringah v North Queensland at Sydney Football Stadium, Saturday night, September 10, 8.30pm
Manly’s backline will return to near full strength for Saturday night’s 2 v 7 qualifying final against North Queensland at the Sydney Football Stadium. Fullback Brett Stewart and five-eighth Kieran Foran return from one-match suspensions while William Hopoate is expected to line up on the wing after three weeks out with a knee injury. For the Cowboys, Dallas Johnson returns at lock after missing last weekend’s clash with the Warriors through concussion.
IN: Brett Stewart, William Hopoate, Kieran Foran
OUT: Dean Whare, Michael Oldfield, Terence Seuseu
IN: Dallas Johnson
OUT: Leeson Ah Mau
Melbourne Storm v Newcastle Knights at AAMI Park, Sunday, September 11, 4pm
The cavalry returns for the Melbourne Storm for Sunday’s fourth qualifying final against Newcastle at AAMI Park. Dally M winner Billy Slater, captain Cameron Smith and props Jesse Bromwich and Bryan Norrie were all rested from last Sunday’s final round match with the Roosters while second-rower Sika Manu was suspended. Five-eighth Gareth Widdop will miss the match with an ankle injury. The Knights are boosted by the return of centre Junior Sa’u (ankle) but utility Matt Hilder has been forced out with a scalp wound.
IN: Billy Slater, Jesse Bromwich, Cameron Smith, Bryan Norrie, Sika Manu
OUT: Gareth Widdop, Troy Thompson, Atelea Vea, Sione Kite, Jack Afamasaga
IN: Junior Sa’u, Steve Southern, Zane Tetevano
OUT: Siuatonga Likiliki, Matt Hilder, Cameron Ciraldo