NRL.com Daily Blog: Gillett good to go for Broncos
Round two of the Telstra Premiership is here already.
After an opening weekend that included drama galore - and enough upsets to provide tipsters with a few early-season nightmares - it all starts again tonight when the Cronulla Sharks and St George Illawarra Dragons meet in one the Telstra Premiership's best derbies.
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7pm AEDT: Thank you for following the NRL.com blog today. Join us tomorrow from 7am for all the wrap-up, news and views following the local derby between the Cronulla Sharks and the St George Illawarra Dragons. Stay on NRL.com tonight for full coverage of Sharks v Dragons clash.
6.50pm AEDT: From NRL.com reporter Scott Hazlewood:
Lock of the week: It's hard to go past the Melbourne Storm in week two. Players love to lift for a milestone game and Billy Slater has had an incredible run in those types of games throughout his career.
6.22pm AEDT: Rugby League was the first sport to commit to a reconciliation action plan but wants to the code to do even more on Indigenous issues.
6.01pm AEDT: Parramatta Eels players copped a spray from coach Brad Arthur after giving up a half-time lead in their loss to the Penrith Panthers.
5.35pm AEDT: A heart-breaking round 1 loss to the Newcastle Knights is driving the Manly Sea Eagles to perform strongly against arch rivals Parramatta.
5.20pm AEDT: Angus Crichton has backed rookie half Adam Doueihi to perform in the absence of Adam Reynolds.
5.11pm AEDT: Despite a poor opening performance for the Sydney Roosters, coach Trent Robinson expects star fullback James Tedesco to bounce back in round 2.
4.56pm AEDT: He is currently Mr Fix-It at the Cronulla Sharks but Kurt Capewell wants to hold down a regular spot in the back-row.
4.35pm AEDT: With Michael Morgan out for the North Queensland Cowboys, coach Paul Green knows that his side will need to lift in Morgan's absence.
3.51pm AEDT: Here's our preview on the Storm v Wests Tigers clash with Zac Bailey and Matthew Elliott.
3.28pm AEDT: Here's a turn-up for the books - Wayne Bennett has admitted he made a mistake playing Sam Thaiday at hooker last week.
3.15pm AEDT: Billy Slater. Glorious.
3.01pm AEDT: Hayley Byrnes reports in from Parramatta ... Corey Norman says the Eels have put their first-round loss behind them. The five-eighth admitted reviewing the footage of their loss to the Panthers with coach Brad Arthur was hard to watch.
2.57pm AEDT: Here's our preview on the Penrith v South Sydney clash with Katie Brown and Jamie Soward.
2.53pm AEDT: Here is our report from Scott Hazlewood in Canberra on Jarrod Croker saying he'll be right to play this weekend after being flattened by Konrad Hurrell last Sunday.
2.33pm AEDT: Bad news for Cowboys fans - Michael Morgan has been ruled out of Friday's clash with the Broncos. Dylan Morris reports from Townsville that coach Paul Green said he was "fairly confident" Morgan would be fit to play next week but it wasn't worth the risk of trotting him out against the Broncos as he's not fully recovered from his stomach injury.
2.23pm AEDT: Broncos forward Matt Gillett got through his fitness test at training today to declare himself a certain starter for Friday night’s NRL blockbuster against North Queensland at Suncorp Stadium.
The hard-running forward suffered a neck injury in the Broncos' 34-12 loss to St George Illawarra last Thursday at Kogarah.
1.55pm AEDT: NRL CEO Todd Greenberg has released a statement to congratulate Melbourne Storm fullback Billy Slater on reaching the 300-game milestone.
Slater will join the exclusive 300-club on Saturday night when the Storm face Wests Tigers at AAMI Park. Slater, the Queensland and Australian representative, will become the 31st player to play 300 games or more.
He will be presented with the match ball from his 300th game by ARLC Chairman Peter Beattie following the round-two clash on Saturday night.
"Billy has been a remarkable player throughout his career," Greenberg said.
"His explosive speed, vision, toughness and the ability to find something out of nothing have always made him one of the most exciting players in the competition to watch. His resilience in recent years have also set him apart.
"I'm sure I speak for many when I say how inspirational it was to see Billy return to the field following his shoulder problems. It will be great to see him reach a milestone he richly deserves."
1.29pm AEDT: Good news for Raiders fans - Jarrod Croker has been cleared to play the Knights on Sunday after successfully going through the HIA protocols.
1.15pm AEDT: Time for a lunchtime read about the time the day Billy Slater thought playing 300 NRL games would be beyond him.
1pm AEDT: Stuck on your footy tips for the week? Check out what our experts say here.
12.28pm AEDT: From NRL.com reporter Joel Gould: It was a classic Wayne Bennett press conference at Broncos training on Thursday morning with the veteran coach appearing to have some fun with his answers to a variety of questions.
His James Bond-esque response to whether he thought North Queensland five-eighth Michael Morgan would play on Friday night was just one of them.
"You better ask their coach. I have got no idea mate, I really haven't," Bennett said.
"Do you think I've got a spy sitting up there somewhere, or a drone running over the top of their training session?"
12.10pm AEDT: Steve Renouf says Brisbane's forward pack were "un-Broncos-like" against the Dragons last week, and says they should take inspiration from their 1990s counterparts.
11.30am AEDT: Here's Roosters coach Trent Robinson confirming Luke Keary's return from injury this week:
11am AEDT: Cronulla's decision to split the fullback duties between Valentine Holmes and Josh Dugan this week comes after Holmes was responsible for a league-high four try causes last week, according to NRL.com Stats.
10.25am AEDT: Close the Gap: The NRL is backing a good cause and you can lend your support with a couple of clicks:
10.15am AEDT: Update from NRL.com's Dan Walsh: Luke Keary is a confirmed starter for the Roosters with Trent Robinson declaring his star five-eighth fit to return from a broken jaw and subsequent concussion symptoms.
Robinson made no apologies for taking extra precautions with the 26-year-old after he suffered persistent headaches during his six-week layoff.
"The broken jaw is a tough one and I feel like we've taken a long period of time (with Keary)," Robinson said.
"We possibly could have rushed him back last week but I think we've developed a lot in the last few years in that we've taken the right measures to get the training right and progress his training.
"Not just say 'he's right' and put him back in. We've probably taken an extra week."
Robinson was coy on whether Keary would play 80 minutes given he hasn't played any pre-season trials and utilities Ryan Matterson and Victor Radley have been named in his 17.
10am AEDT: Roosters forward Lindsay Collins has lost the locks for a good cause, raising money for the World's Greatest Shave.
9.50am AEDT: Cowboys co-captain says the arrival of fellow Test prop Jordan McLean at the club has taken the pressure off him this season as he returns from injury: "It is good when you come back from a long-term injury not having that pressure because I know I don't have to go out there and play 50 or 60 minutes, just the job that is asked of me."
9.30am AEDT: Ahead of his 300th NRL game, Billy Slater discusses the evolution of the fullback. Watch the video below.
9am AEDT: NRL.com's Lone Scout has the answers to this week's big NRL Fantasy questions ahead of round two.
8.30am AEDT: NSW five-eighth James Maloney told Fox Sports' League Life on Wednesday night that his Panthers halves partner Nathan Cleary is clearly a future Origin star but he's not sure if it will happen this year.
"He's got everything to become something really special," Maloney said. "I think just give him time and let him develop.
"There's no doubt when you're talking Origin and things like that - at some point he will wear that jersey, there is no doubt about that whatsoever. Whether it's this year, that's another story."
8.15am AEDT: There has been a lot of talk about the Sharks' on-field line-up this week (see this morning's early blog posts below) but off the field new recruit Matt Moylan is chipping in, helping out with collecting donations for Red Cross. Donate to Australian Red Cross here
8.05pm AEDT: Cult favourite Konrad Hurrell will return to Mt Smart Stadium for the first time as a Titan when he takes on his former club this week, with his Gold Coast coach Garth Brennan saying he is now "well and truly up there among the best centres in the game".
7.50am AEDT: Former Sharks hooker Michael Ennis has joined the debate about Cronulla's fullback situation, arguing in his Big League column that Valentine Holmes should move to the wing and stay there for good.
7.30am AEDT: Powerful Manly winger Jorge Taufua made a big return from an ACL injury last week and is now keen to make up for lost time.
7am AEDT: Sharks coach Shane Flanagan hasn't just been preparing his side to face the Dragons, he has also been defending them against the claims made by North Queensland Cowboys back-rower Gavin Cooper earlier in the week. Read about Flanagan's latest views on the topic.
7am AEDT: While on Flanagan, it appears Josh Dugan will be spending a decent amount of time at fullback over the next few weeks.
7am AEDT: Young Panthers star Nathan Cleary is within sights of one of Hazem El Masri's greatest records. Read what the Bulldogs great had to say about the Penrith No.7.