The key team changes and NRL Fantasy form guide for each club heading into round 21.
Canterbury Bulldogs v Brisbane Broncos, Thursday 7.50pm at ANZ Stadium
Bulldogs: Danny Fualalo replaces the suspended David Klemmer at prop and Chris Smith joins the interchange. Kerrod Holland was a popular cheapie a few weeks back and he's repaid the faith in a big way in the past couple of weeks, with 54 in round 19 and a two-try, eight-tackle-break 74 against the Tigers last week. Rhyse Martin is hurtling towards the $800,000-mark, while Will Hopoate remains a pretty solid option at winger/fullback or especially at centre with 43 last week.
Broncos: No changes. Matt Lodge is averaging 51 in his past three games – too little, too late for the vast majority of Fantasy coaches who sold him ages ago – while Tevita Pangai jnr got a welcome boost to his game time with 72 minutes last round but still managed "only" 44. After a run of good form Anthony Milford made his third worst score of the season last week, with 33.
Newcastle Knights v Wests Tigers, Friday 6pm at McDonald Jones Stadium
Knights: Connor Watson and Cory Dennis return in place of Jack Cogger and Nathan Ross, while JJ Felise will come off the bench in place of Jacob Lillyman. Lachlan Fitzgibbon has scored three tries in the past fortnight for massive couple of scores (81 and 92) but he remains a risky buy considering attacking stats are never guaranteed for a forward at a bottom-eight club. Kalyn Ponga didn't miss a beat in his return with 55 against his old Cowboys teammates, while Mitchell Pearce has been very consistent recently with 73, 48 and 49 since coming back from injury.
Wests Tigers: Robbie Rochow replaces Chris McQueen on the bench. Esan Marsters is averaging 50 in his past three games, Robbie Farah's season average is still above 61 and dual-position 2RF/CTR Michael Chee Kam continues to make 40s in the second row. Moses Mbye's 28 was the only real worry of the Fantasy-relevant players at the Tigers this week.
South Sydney Rabbitohs v Melbourne Storm, Friday 7.55pm at ANZ Stadium
Rabbitohs: Unchanged. Damien Cook is in incredible form and while Melbourne seem like the kind of team capable of containing him, he has averaged almost 64 points a game against top-eight clubs this season. Adam Reynolds and Angus Crichton are both averaging in the mid-50s in their past three games.
Storm: Ryan Hoffman returns and Dale Finucane starts, with Kenny Bromwich and Joe Stimson moving back to the bench and Cheyse Blair dropping out. Cameron Smith burned a few Fantasy coaches (yours truly included) with a sub-50 score last week but is still capable of producing a monster score, especially in a crunch game against a premiership rival like the Rabbitohs. Cameron Munster scored 79 last week in a superb performance at five-eighth but that came on the back of scores of 28 and 39.
St George Illawarra Dragons v New Zealand Warriors, Saturday 3pm at WIN Stadium
Dragons: Unchanged. Ben Hunt was the top scorer of round 20 with 93 – including two tries – to bump his season average up towards 50. Euan Aitken hasn't scored a 50 since June but his poorer scores have still been pretty solid while Cameron McInnes is averaging 65 in his past three games.
Warriors: The cavalry returns after last week's shock loss to the Titans.Tohu Harris and Issac Luke were both late withdrawals last round and the Warriors really missed them, although a try helped Shaun Johnson get out of his Fantasy funk with his first 50 since round 14. Adam Blair is also back this week with Simon Mannering and Jazz Tevaga benched and Sam Lisone, Joseph Vuna and Karl Lawton out of the side. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck only managed 22 last week and scored a meagre 19 the last time the Warriors played the Dragons.
Parramatta Eels v Gold Coast Titans, Saturday 5.30pm at ANZ Stadium
Eels: Daniel Alvaro (knee, round 24) and Kaysa Pritchard (shoulder) are out but George Jennings is back, with Jarryd Hayne switching to centre, Reed Mahoney at hooker, Brad Takairangi back to the forward rotation on the bench, and Jaeman Salmon and Kane Evans joining the interchange. David Gower drops to the reserves. Nathan Brown was Parramatta's only player to pass 50 last week with Jarryd Hayne failing to crack 40 despite scoring his fifth try of the year.
Titans: No changes. AJ Brimson (61) and Phillip Sami (60) starred in the Gold Coast's surprise win over the Warriors with Ryan James averaging 45 in the past month after a massive three-week mid-season scoring spree. Jai Arrow is coming off two straight scores of 25 with his minutes way down since State of Origin (45 minutes and 40 minutes). He's still a potential 55-point player at full fitness but unless you've got a dead rubber head-to-head match this week it might be safer to trade Arrow or sit him out of your 17 this week.
Sydney Roosters v North Queensland Cowboys, Saturday 7.35pm at Allianz Stadium
Roosters: Luke Keary's knee injury means Ryan Matterson moves into the halves and Dylan Napa returns from his knee injury, with Kurt Baptiste added to the bench and Lindsay Collins dropping out. Latrell Mitchell is really starting to hit beast mode these days with five tries in the last two weeks and he could have a field day against a brittle Cowboys edge defence, while James Tedesco is getting back to his best as well.
Cowboys: Matt Scott is named to start at prop with John Asiata moving to the interchange in North Queensland's only change. Jason Taumalolo hasn't really busted a game open since his 71 against the Warriors in round 15 but he remains a hold.
NRL Fantasy Preview - Round 21
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks v Manly Warringah Sea Eagles, Sunday 2pm at Southern Cross Group Stadium
Sharks: Wade Graham returns and Josh Dugan is on the comeback trail at last after being included in the reserves. Scott Sorensen moves back to the bench with Joseph Paulo out of the 17. Despite fears Aaron Woods could cut into his game time, Andrew Fifita is in one of his best bursts of form of the season, averaging 64 in his past three games. Valentine Holmes is averaging 55 since round 12 – that's Kalyn Ponga-esque.
Sea Eagles: Martin Taupau is named to start ahead of Taniela Paseka after coming off the bench last week. Manase Fainu scored 66 including a try last round and has scored 58 points a game so far, although he does have a court appearance coming up which could affect his availability for the last part of the season. Taupau turned on the speed for a genuine line break along with nine tackle busts in his 72-point effort against the Panthers, while Daly Cherry-Evans has scored 52 with a try in both the last two rounds.
Penrith Panthers v Canberra Raiders, Sunday 4.10pm at Panthers Stadium
Panthers: Nathan Cleary is back. The Penrith halfback seems to have shaken off the post-Origin Blues, bouncing back from scores of 33, 32 and 18 to hit 53 and 78 in the last fortnight. He's made line breaks and produced try assists in both those recent games but the more promising sign is his base stats, with good numbers for kick metres and run metres plus goal-kicking duties which he's regained from James Maloney. In the meantime Viliame Kikau's scores have dipped despite consistent 80-minute performances, while Waqa Blake is a genuine keeper in the centres with tries in five of his last six games. Penrith are unchanged this week, although Reagan Campbell-Gillard is included in the reserves.
Raiders: Canberra have reshuffled their backline with Aidan Sezer fit again, Nick Cotric moving to fullback, Brad Abbey going to the wing and Blake Austin starting in the centres. Elliott Whitehead returns to the forward pack, bumping Luke Bateman to the interchange, while Shannon Boyd's return means Jack Murchie and Liam Knight drop out. Joey Leilua is scoring like a keeper at last, although his form hasn't been as eye-catching as Latrell Mitchell's.