Scout Report: Round 24 teams wrap
The key Fantasy ins and outs for all 16 NRL sides this week, with hookers Michael Lichaa, Nathan Peats and Issac Luke sidelined, Bodene Thompson and Martin Taupau returning and plenty more.
Dragons v Panthers
Dragons: Benji Marshall returns at halfback, while Dylan Farrell replaces Nathan Green on the wing. Jack de Belin moves back to the bench while consistent Fantasy forward Mike Cooper has been bumped from lock with Trent Merrin moving into the starting side – in good news for Merrin owners but probably bad news for Cooper's scores. Euan Aitken had a quiet game last week but is capable of notching a few tackle busts against a weakened Penrith side. Mitch Rein is in a great run of form and suddenly looms as a popular buy at hooker after Michael Lichaa's injury.
Panthers: Tyrone Peachey returns to the second row after a dazzling performance filling in at five-eighth last weekend, with Isaac John back in the halves and Nigel Plum having retired. Apisai Koroisau has kept his starting spot at hooker with James Segeyaro the first name on an extended bench. Segeyaro made a decent enough 38 last week but is unlikely to get his usual 55+ scores if he's not in the starting side.
Rabbitohs v Bulldogs
Rabbitohs: John Sutton has been named at five-eighth to cover the suspended Luke Keary, although Sutton himself is in some doubt and could be replaced by Cody Walker this week. Paul Carter replaces the suspended Issac Luke at hooker, while Glenn Stewart returns to the side via the bench, alongside Chris Grevsmuhl. Adam Reynolds was one of Souths' best last week with 64 and you'd expect he'd only get more kick metres if Sutton is out.
Bulldogs: Michael Lichaa is out with a season-ending ankle injury with Damien Cook slotting into the dummy-half role. Prop Aiden Tolman missed the weekend's game with a hamstring injury and has been left out again. James Graham is back to his old consistent self in the front row, averaging 54 in the past three weeks.
Sharks v Wests Tigers
Sharks: Ben Barba is out with an ankle injury and Sam Tagataese returns to the pack, with Matt Prior dropping back to the bench. After a run of five scores below 40, Jack Bird has got his groove back in attack and scored 47, 59 and 63 in the past three weeks. Paul Gallen is averaging 68.4 from the past five weeks and is the most popular captaincy option in Fantasy, ahead of Corey Parker, Cameron Smith and Johnathan Thurston.
Wests Tigers: Martin Taupau is back from suspension at lock, with Sauaso Sue moving to the front row and Keith Galloway dropping back to an extended bench alongside the returning Chris Lawrence. Aaron Woods left the field with a knee injury against the Knights last week but has been named to play. Robbie Farah hasn't played the full 80 since Round 9 and scored just 27 points in 62 minutes against Newcastle last week.
Warriors v Cowboys
Warriors: Bodene Thompson is back at last but has been named on the bench with Sione Lousi to start in the second row. Albert Vete replaces the suspended Sam Rapira at prop. Simon Mannering (60 season average; 60 last week) has been close to the most consistent player in NRL Fantasy this season.
Cowboys: Coen Hess has been named to make his NRL debut off the bench, and John Asiata replaces the injured Gavin Cooper in the second row. Johnathan Thurston didn't manage a try assist in a losing side last week but still managed half a dozen tackle breaks and 57 Fantasy points.
Roosters v Broncos
Roosters: Aidan Guerra is facing a possible suspension but has been named in the second row at this stage, with Mitchell Aubusson returning to the bench and Brendan Elliot joining the backline. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck's form is just silly at the moment, but he may struggle to cause too much havoc against Wayne Bennett's very solid Brisbane team. Jake Friend (71 last week) is an option to replace Michael Lichaa in your Fantasy side.
Broncos: No changes for the high-flying Broncos this week. Corey Parker played just 56 minutes last week – the equal-fewest minutes he's played in an NRL game this year – and produced his lowest score since Round 1 (although 49 points is hardly the end of the world). Andrew McCullough also had an off Fantasy game by his standards with 37 in 50 minutes, while Ben Hunt passed the 70-point mark for the sixth time this year. You can expect quality defenders like Parker and McCullough to get more game time this week against Brisbane's minor premiership rivals the Roosters.
Titans v Raiders
Titans: Both halves Kane Elgey and Aidan Sezer are out, with Josh Hoffman and Daniel Mortimer lining up in the halves, while Nate Myles and Ryan James return to the starting pack. Try-scoring whiz James Roberts is a decent option in the centres this week if you need to take a gamble there.
Raiders: Joey Leilua's suspension has ended but Jordan Rapana has copped a ban, meaning a straight swap in the Canberra backline this week as Sisa Waqa shifts from centre to the wing. Jarrad Kennedy will start in the second row with Mitchell Barnett dropped and Luke Bateman coming onto the bench. Shaun Fensom is back to scoring 60s on a regular basis these days.
Sea Eagles v Eels
Sea Eagles: No changes for Manly. Daly Cherry-Evans (64) and Jamie Lyon (81) cashed in on another strong attacking performance from the Sea Eagles last week, and DCE is a good chance of repeating the dose against Parra this week as Manly continue to push for a finals spot.
Eels: Hooker Nathan Peats – who some had pegged as a replacement option for Michael Lichaa – is out himself with a season-ending neck injury, meaning Isaac De Gois starts at hooker and Daniel Alvaro gets a bench spot, while Will Hopoate returns to replace Vai Toutai at centre.
Storm v Knights
Storm: No changes. It was a good night for all Melbourne's usual suspects on Monday against the Sharks, with Cameron Smith (62), Jesse Bromwich (63), Tohu Harris (50) and Cooper Cronk (51) all getting among the points.
Knights: Joseph Tapine was a late withdrawal with illness last week but is back on an extended bench, with Sam Mataora named 18th man. Kade Snowden managed another no-frills 52 last week and remains the safest Fantasy buy in this Newcastle side.