Scout Report: Round 24 teams wrap
NRL.com's Lone Scout analyses all the key team changes and rates the Fantasy form of key players ahead of the 24th round of the Telstra Premiership season.
Eels: Bevan French has been named to return from a hamstring injury at fullback, bumping Will Smith out of the 17. Nathan Brown's outstanding season just keeps getting better, with the Parra lock piling on 75 points in a beaten side last week to push his average since the Eels' first bye past 65. Last week's loss to Newcastle also showed what happens to Mitchell Moses' scores when he doesn't help engineer an Eels win (he scored 18).
Titans: There has been plenty of talk about the futures of Jarryd Hayne and coach Neil Henry this week but on the field the Titans have made just a couple of changes, with Tyrone Roberts and Max King named to start and Kane Elgey and Leivaha Pulu to come off the bench. Jarrod Wallace has been named despite suffering a knee injury on the weekend. Hayne is rated a 50-50 chance to play this week due to a leg injury and hasn't scored more than 40 Fantasy points in a game since June.
Rabbitohs: Souths have reshuffled their forward pack with Angus Crichton returning to the starting side after being benched last week, Sam Burgess shifting to prop and Cameron Murray moving from the second row to lock. Zane Musgrove is back to the interchange. Alex Johnston is actually South Sydney's best Fantasy scorer from their past three games, averaging 60 in that time with the Rabbitohs claiming a couple of rare wins. Crichton still managed to score 50 despite getting limited minutes last week, even with a disallowed try, while Fantasy coaches are losing patience with Burgess's nagging rib injury.
Warriors: Kieran Foran is back but Ben Matulino is suspended, with Charlie Gubb joining the bench and young half Mason Lino dropping out. Despite the Warriors' struggles of late captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck is in good touch, hitting back-to-back scores above 50 for just the second time this year.
Broncos: No changes for Brisbane, with Ben Hunt and Sam Thaiday expected to do their usual switcheroo before kick-off with Thaiday to start at hooker and Hunt to come off the bench in the No.9 jersey. As expected, Hunt and Kodi Nikorima's scores dropped this week despite another good Broncos win. Tautau Moga scored two great individual tries for 60 points last week.
Dragons: No changes to the Dragons' 17 this week apart from Leeson Ah Mau switching back into the starting pack and Tariq Sims named on the bench. Euan Aitken is a chance of returning after being included in the reserves. Kurt Mann is coming off scores of 78 and 87 if you're looking to take a gamble for $361,000 but the real Fantasy guns here are the ever-reliable Cameron McInnes (94 last week) and Jack de Belin (57), while Paul Vaughan's 48 against the Titans is his lowest score since he got injured in Round 16.
Knights: Newcastle are unchanged after stunning the Eels last week. Brock Lamb has reeled off scores of 51, 71 and 73 after guiding his team to three straight wins, while Dane Gagai was sensational at fullback against the Eels last week with 92 Fantasy points. He looks a great buy at centre or at the back if you're in the market for a scorer.
Storm: Cameron Munster is back in some welcome news for Fantasy coaches. Jahrome Hughes moves back to the bench, with Tim Glasby out of the side. With the minor premiership effectively theirs, there is the risk the Storm could give their stars a spell in the lead-up to the finals - making Cameron Smith a potential risk as captain if Melbourne opens up an early lead against the Knights.
Roosters: Michael Gordon returns at fullback, pushing Connor Watson to the bench and Joseph Manu out of the side, with Mitchell Aubusson and Ryan Matterson lining up in the centres. After scoring 61 and 58 in losing efforts Mitchell Pearce could go big this week if the Roosters pile on some points against the Tigers.
Wests Tigers: Chris Lawrence has been named to play but it is understood he is likely to remain on the sidelines. James Tedesco's consistency in the past five weeks is ridiculous for a fullback - he's hit 58, 61, 61, 58 and 59, and the Tigers only won two of those games. Matt Eisenhuth is now a dual position front and second-rower in Fantasy.
Cowboys: Michael Morgan is named to play despite last week's concussion but Justin O'Neill (dislocated elbow) and Shaun Fensom (knee) are out. Kalyn Ponga replaces O'Neill in the backline, John Asiata starts in the front row for Fensom and Ben Hampton is on the bench with Te Maire Martin returning from injury in the halves. Jason Taumalolo remains a real risk-and-reward captaincy option in Fantasy - he's actually only had one score in the 50s since the Anzac weekend, along with six scores under 49, a 61 and five scores above 70.
Sharks: No changes, although Jayden Brailey could still be a late inclusion. Andrew Fifita is really due a big score and Paul Gallen had a 300th game to forget after making a season-low 24 in a losing effort against Brisbane. It was actually the first time Gallen had scored less than 44 this season.
Raiders: No changes this week. Canberra's late surge towards finals contention is helping their Fantasy prospects, with Jarrod Croker and Nick Cotric both passing 60 last week and even Joey Leilua finding some consistency.
Panthers: Peter Wallace is out of the side with a broken hand, Sione Katoa starts at hooker in Penrith's only change, although Trent Merrin has been included in the reserves. It feels like a switch went off in Nathan Cleary during the bye rounds this season. Before the byes he was a solid Fantasy scorer, making 45 points a game. Since the byes he's scored at a remarkable 75 per game as the Panthers burst into the NRL top eight, with his price tag fast approaching the $600,000 mark. He's not cheap but he's close to a must-have these days.
Bulldogs: Matt Frawley replaces the injured Josh Reynolds at five-eighth with Michael Lichaa joining the bench. James Graham has been quiet - or injured - for much of the season but he produced a season-high 73 Fantasy points last Friday against the Rabbitohs, and could be a bit of a steal in the front row for the run home at $389,000.
Sea Eagles: Rookie Brad Parker is out with a knee injury, with Brian Kelly returning in the centres. Daly Cherry-Evans and Tom Trbojevic were both on track for big scores on Sunday before Manly went missing in the second half and the Tigers stole the win, with the pair having to settle for good rather than great numbers. Expect them both to lift as the Sea Eagles look to bounce back against the Bulldogs.