Scout Report: Round 20 teams wrap
With two more stars joining the casualty ward here's all the key team changes, injury news and in-form Fantasy prospects heading into NRL Round 20.
Broncos: Queensland forwards Matt Gillett and Josh McGuire return after getting a rest last week, with Jai Arrow and Jaydn Su'A dropping out and Sam Thaiday bumped to the bench. Andrew McCullough remains a consistent option at hooker and his 80-minute game time continues to be safe despite the presence of a bench utility, although he hasn't scored more than 55 in a game since April. James Roberts was at his elusive best against the Knights last week with 64 while Ben Hunt is a left-field option to replace the injured Shaun Johnson in the halves if you want to save about $100,000.
Bulldogs: Blues trio Brett Morris, Josh Jackson and David Klemmer are back in place of Kerrod Holland, Asipeli Fine and Andy Saunders while Michael Lichaa is named at hooker with Matt Frawley returning to the bench. Aiden Tolman is coming off back-to-back 80-minute performances (leading to bumper scores of 71 and 64) but that will presumably end if and when James Graham returns.
Roosters: With Jake Friend and Michael Gordon sidelined for the next few weeks, Connor Watson and Mitchell Cornish come into the side at fullback and hooker respectively, while Origin trio Mitchell Pearce, Blake Ferguson and Dylan Napa are back. Pearce looms as a quality straight swap for Shaun Johnson, with Pearce's 57-point average the second best among Fantasy halves behind Johnson.
Knights: Shaun Kenny-Dowall will make his first appearance for his new club (against his old club) on the wing, with Brendan Elliot dropping out. Jacob Saifiti is also out with a calf injury with his brother Daniel starting at prop and Luke Yates joining the bench, while Jamie Buhrer moves to the interchange with Danny Levi to start at hooker. Dane Gagai's in top form after being named Queensland's player of the series in Origin and coming off Fantasy scores of 84 and 53 for Newcastle. Mitch Barnett hit 68 from 72 minutes last week, while Sione Mata'utia scored 50 (including a try) in a boost to his credentials as a keeper in the centres.
Sharks: James Maloney returns for a Cronulla side reeling from last week's shock loss to the Titans, and Andrew Fifita and Luke Lewis are back in the starting side after coming off the bench last week. One-time Fantasy century-maker Kurt Capewell drops out. Paul Gallen (84 last week) and Fifita (57 off the bench) will both be popular trade targets for the run home.
Rabbitohs: Damien Cook and Aaron Gray return for Souths, with Braidon Burns and Cameron Murray making way. Angus Crichton continues to excel and says he'll continue playing through his foot injury but Sam Burgess is in a bit of a Fantasy slump by his usual standards, with just one score above 50 since Round 11 (althought that was a brilliant 74 against Brisbane). Tyrell Fuimaono is a bigger concern - after briefly appearing to be a keeper in the centres his scores have slid in the last few weeks culminating in a season-low 19 against the Cowboys.
Panthers: Trent Merrin's knee injury will sideline him for the next month or two but the Panthers have two big ins this week in Matt Moylan and Peter Wallace, with Moses Leota starting at lock for Merrin. Tyrone May and Mitch Rein make way for Moylan and Wallace, while Reagan Campbell-Gillard starts up front with Tim Browne shifting back to the bench. Nathan Cleary was the star of Round 19 with a monster score of 126 - the best Fantasy score in history, if you don't mind - and has emerged as a replacement option for Shaun Johnson. Dylan Edwards is a hold despite a last-start 27 - if anything his prospects of holding the fullback spot are even better now with Merrin's injury meaning Bryce Cartwright is increasingly likely to return in the back row rather than bumping Moylan out of the five-eighth role. (Cartwright is fit again but will return via the Intrust Super Premiership this week.)
Titans: Morgan Boyle replaces Pat Politoni on the bench in an otherwise unchanged side after the Gold Coast stunned the Sharks last week, led by a rampant Ash Taylor. Ryan James has dropped a whopping $190,000 on his starting price after a very quiet season compared with last year's try-scoring spree, while Jarrod Wallace is looking more like a solid 18th-man option than first-team keeper in Fantasy.
Raiders: Josh Papalii has copped a two-match suspension for a shoulder charge on Josh Dugan with Joseph Tapine taking his spot in the starting side and Michael Oldfield joining the 17. Jarrod Croker is having a lean run of scores and his value has dropped below that of Joey Leilua and Nick Cotric.
Storm: The return of triumphant Origin stars and Fantasy keepers Cameron Smith, Cameron Munster, Cameron Munster and Billy Slater will be a welcome boost to Fantasy coaches this week, but the bad news is young gun Curtis Scott has only been named in the reserves with Young Tonumaipea getting the nod to partner Will Chambers in the centres.
Cowboys: Unchanged. Jason Taumalolo continues to go from strength to strength but Michael Morgan's chances of emerging as a potential keeper in the halves took a massive hit when he scored just 24 in a winning side against the Rabbitohs.
Warriors: Shaun Johnson's knee injury is the biggest headache facing Fantasy coaches this season, with the superstar half unlikely to return at club level this season but still a chance of playing in the World Cup for New Zealand. Mason Lino is his replacement at halfback for the Warriors. Simon Mannering (72) and Bodene Thompson (62) both scored well again last week but Roger Tuivasa-Sheck was kept quiet with 27 in his first game without a try in six matches.
Dragons: Tyson Frizell and Euan Aitken are back in the Dragons' starting side, with Russell Packer (hip injury) and Taane Milne dropping out of a reshuffled line-up. Cameron McInnes bounced back from a quiet run of scores with an impressive 71 last week and is arguably the best option to partner Cameron Smith at hooker for the run home, while Jack de Belin gave his owners a scare after being named on the bench against Canberra only to play 75 minutes anyway and score 66.
Sea Eagles: Apisai Koroisau and Matthew Wright are out, with Cameron Cullen and Brad Parker starting at hooker and wing respectively and Jackson Hastings joining the bench. Since being left out of Queensland's Origin III squad Daly Cherry-Evans has posted his two best Fantasy scores of the season, following up last week's 68 with a 78 to emerge as a potential cut-price Shaun Johnson replacement. It looks like he's continue kicking goals in the short term at least as well. Tom Tbrojevic is also in blistering form after scores of 57, 70 and 62 and Shaun Lane is coming off back-to-back 50s.
Wests Tigers: With Sauaso Sue suspended and Jacob Liddle injured Chris Lawrence and Matt McIlwrick start for the Tigers with Michael Chee-Kam and Tim Grant added to the bench. Aaron Woods played the full 80 minutes after a couple of injuries hit the Tigers pack in the first half on Sunday, scoring 59, and he's a potential replacement for Trent Merrin in the forwards. Tui Lolohea is coming off a couple of good scores while James Tedesco is on track to overtake Jordan Rapana as 2017's leading winger/fullback.
Eels: Manu Ma'u return in the second row means Kenny Edwards goes back to the interchange and David Gower drops out of the 17. Nathan Brown is in great form and at $447,000 is probably the ideal replacement for Trent Merrin.