The key team changes and NRL Fantasy form guide for all 16 clubs heading into the fourth round of the Telstra Premiership season.
North Queensland Cowboys v Penrith Panthers, 7.05pm (8.05pm AEDT) Thursday at 1300Smiles Stadium
Cowboys: No changes for the Cowboys this week, although Lachlan Coote could potentially make his return and bump Ben Hampton out of the fullback role after being included among the reserves (Coote has been named to return via the Intrust Super Cup for the Mackay Cutters this week). Coen Hess had one of his monster two-try games last week for 80 points but won't do that every week, while Jason Taumalolo (30), Johnathan Thurston (24) and the rest of the Cowboys were kept very quiet in a game dominated by penalties (and the Storm).
Panthers: Nathan Cleary is the big out for Penrith, expected to spend 10 weeks on the sidelines, with Tyrone Peachey to start in the halves this week and young playmaker Jarome Luai named on the bench. Viliame Kikau (56), Dylan Edwards (55) and Isaah Yeo (58) were the Fantasy standouts for the Panthers last week, with James Fisher-Harris also impressing with 40. Trent Merrin battled a rib injury and played only 40 minutes for 29 points. Christian Crichton (16) doesn't look like a cash cow just yet.
Round 3 in pictures
South Sydney Rabbitohs v Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, 4.10pm Friday at ANZ Stadium
Rabbitohs: No changes. Robert Jennings (83) bagged a hat-trick last week while Alex Johnston (62) had a big game at fullback and star forwards Angus Crichton (62), Cameron Murray (60), Sam Burgess (52) and Damien Cook (50) all impressed. Adam Doueihi has made $99,000 in price rises in two weeks, but this could be his last game in the starting side before Adam Reynolds' return. Greg Inglis is yet to make a real impact this season.
Bulldogs: Unchanged. Moses Mbye will be a popular bye after a monster 101-point performance against Penrith in which he did pretty much everything, and while he hasn't been a Fantasy keeper in the past he has the ability to score at least 45 a week at fullback. Raymond Faitala-Mariner (54) has earned $135,000 in price rises this year while Jeremy Marshall King (now $258k) looks like a good money earner after scoring 41 on debut.
Cronulla Sharks v Melbourne Storm, 8.05pm Friday at Southern Cross Group Stadium
Sharks: Matt Moylan and Luke Lewis are back for Cronulla, with Trent Hodkinson and Jayson Bukuya (groin) dropping out. Andrew Fifita made 180 metres plus five offloads and five tackle breaks in a trademark 64 last week and remains among the Fantasy elite, while Paul Gallen showed signs of his old self with 48 in 52 minutes. Josh Dugan made a dozen tackle busts for 56 points while Valentine Holmes is an urgent sell after dropping a huge $160,000 in three weeks.
Storm: Kenny Bromwich replaces Brandon Smith on the bench in Melbourne's only change this week. Nelson Asofa-Solomona hit a team-high 56 last week, including a try, while Cameron Smith made "only" 50 points in a stop-start game against the Cowboys. Brodie Croft is averaging just under 24 points a game and is a sell.
Sydney Roosters v New Zealand Warriors, 5.30pm Saturday at Allianz Stadium
Roosters: Unchanged. Jake Friend tackled his way to 70 points last week but Blake Ferguson is the surprise success story at the Roosters this year, making more than 200 metres each week to lead the league in that stat and averaging 50 points a game. Mitchell Aubusson scored just five in 14 minutes last week – he's a sell.
Warriors: Sam Lisone is suspended this week, replaced on the bench by Tevita Satae, while Adam Blair is named at lock with Agnatius Paasi at prop. Tohu Harris has been superb for his new club, scoring a tick over 57 points a game and helping them to three wins, while Roger Tuivasa-Sheck also impressed once again last week and is averaging a massive 62.7. Peta Hiku keeps missing tackles but also keeps making up for it in attack with 41 points on the weekend to take his earnings to $91,000 so far. Shaun Johnson finally had a quiet game against Canberra with seven missed tackles of his own.
NRL Fantasy Review Show Round 3
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles v Canberra Raiders, 7.35pm Saturday at Lottoland
Sea Eagles: Matthew Wright replaces Jorge Taufua (collarbone, eight weeks) on the wing this week. It may be a tumultuous time on and off the field for Manly – their 54-0 thumping of Parramatta has been sandwiched between two surprise losses, and they were hit with a hefty fine for salary cap breaches on Monday – but in Fantasy they remain fairly reliable with Jake Trbojevic, Martin Taupau and Daly Cherry-Evans scoring well and Lachlan Croker doing just enough to eke out price rises.
Raiders: Joseph Tapine has been named to return off the bench and Ata Hingano is the new interchange hooker, with Blake Austin and Liam Knight dropped from the 17. Nick Cotric notched up 13 tackle breaks for 70 points last week while Elliott Whitehead is sitting alongside three wingers as the NRL's equal leading try-scorer with four from three matches. It looks like Sam Williams' brief window as a potential cash cow has closed, while Siliva Havili once again has a break even in the single digits after another solid score in the 30s.
St George Illawarra Dragons v Newcastle Knights, 4.10pm Sunday at WIN Stadium
Dragons: Unchanged. Gareth Widdop had the ball on a string against the Titans with a try, a couple of line breaks and five try assists in a near-perfect 99-point performance, while Matt Dufty brought his season average to 50 with an 81-point haul, including a hat-trick. The Dragons forwards may be splitting the Fantasy points between them this year (Jack de Belin made just 37 after being sin-binned, while James Graham scored just 32) but their backs are cashing in.
Knights: Connor Watson's shoulder injury may be good news for Brock Lamb, who starts this week at five-eighth, and it could also mean Slade Griffin plays the full 80 minutes at hooker as he did last week with no specialist hooker on the bench. Chris Heighington has been named to return on the bench. Jamie Buhrer is the utility on the interchange, with Danny Levi named in the reserves. Aidan Guerra scored another try for his third straight 50+ score at his new club while Griffin and Kalyn Ponga (46) were the other Knights to score above 40 in Sunday's loss to the Roosters.
Brisbane Broncos v Gold Coast Titans, 6.30pm Sunday at Suncorp Stadium
Broncos: Tevita Pangai jnr (hamstring) and Corey Oates (hip) are both facing a fortnight on the sidelines, with Jonus Pearson and Jaydn Su'A replacing them in the 17 this week. Korbin Sims will start at prop. Pangai jnr is a hold considering his early-season form. Brisbane's golden point arm wrestle against the Tigers was always going to suit the forwards and that's how it proved, with Andrew McCullough making 61 tackles and 65 points while Josh McGuire (64), Korbin Sims (57) and Matt Lodge (51) all impressed. Jamayne Isaako (41) proved his worth to the team by kicking all the Broncos' goals including the match-saving field goal and match-winning penalty.
Titans: There's quite a reshuffle in the Gold Coast pack this week with Bryce Cartwright dropped to the bench, Jai Arrow moving to lock and Ryan James shifting to prop. Will Matthews is back in the side in the second row, Max King returns on the bench and Keegan Hipgrave (suspended) and Morgan Boyle drop out. No Gold Coast player made more than 40 points in their big loss to the Dragons on Sunday, with the super-popular Bryce Cartwright finishing with eight missed tackles, a penalty and an error. Those demerits were the difference between a score of 47 and 27, which he actually finished on.
In my head, I’m playing: Benji
Wests Tigers v Parramatta Eels, 4pm Monday at ANZ Stadium
Wests Tigers: No changes for the Tigers apart from Pita Godinet being named to start at hooker after coming off the bench last week. Russell Packer played a massive 73 minutes in the front row against Brisbane – albeit in a golden point match – for 56 points. Robbie Rochow (48) is proving great value this year, even if he hasn't shown much consistency just yet, while Corey Thompson (35) has been the club's highest-scoring Fantasy player and increased in value by $178,000 in the process.
Eels: Plenty of changes for the winless Eels this week. Jarryd Hayne will miss between two and four weeks with a hip injury and with a break even of 50 and an average score of 17 he looks like a sell even if he returns quickly. Bevan French is also out with a shoulder injury, while Kane Evans has a ribs injury and Cameron King has been been dropped. Kaysa Pritchard, Peni Terepo and one-time Fantasy star Tony Williams join the 17. Daniel Alvaro scored an excellent 62 pretty much purely from base stats last week (52 tackles, 110 metres) and is currently rivalling Nathan Brown as Parramatta's best Fantasy scorer.