Some big names return and the threat of suspension hangs over two star players ahead of the final round of head-to-head NRL Fantasy leagues before the knockout stages begin.
This week's NRL Fantasy news
Cowboys v Broncos, Thursday 7.50pm at 1300Smiles Stadium
Cowboys: Gideon Gela-Mosby replaces Murray Taulagi on the bench. Jason Taumalolo is coming off scores of 57 and 54, and but since returning from injury in round 8 he's yet to go three straight games without scoring above 60.
Broncos: Xavier Coates drops out of the side after being a late inclusion last week, with Alex Glenn named at centre, Tevita Pangai jnr returning to the second row, Joe Ofahengaue at lock and Tom Flegler to come off the bench. Payne Haas's 55 last week was his worst score since May, and it came in a game when Brisbane conceded 40 points and no other Bronco score more than 47 in Fantasy. Expect to see attacking weapon Anthony Milford improve on last week's 34 here.
Warriors v Sea Eagles, Friday 6pm at Mt Smart Stadium
Warriors: Chanel Harris-Tevita replaces the injured Kodi Nikorima (ankle) at five-eighth, Karl Lawton (shoulder) is out and Adam Keighran, Sam Lisone and Ligi Sao join the bench, with Josh Curran the 18th man. Issac Luke's suspension and Lawton's shoulder injury meant Jazz Tevaga started a hooker and played the full 80 last week, racking up 65 points including 68 tackles. The battle of Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Tom Trbojevic will be crucial to the result of both this game and a lot of head-to-head Fantasy match-ups.
Sea Eagles: Manly are unchanged. Daly Cherry-Evans is in sensational form, scoring 72, 66, 58 and 72 again in the past month. Tom Trbojevic had four errors and still scored 50 against the Knights, thanks to a season-high 11 tackle breaks, while Martin Taupau grabbed a try on the way to 61. Manase Fainu played 54 minutes off the bench with Api Koroisau (34 minutes) starting last week.
Panthers v Sharks, Friday 7.55pm at Panthers Stadium
Panthers: Viliame Kikau returns from suspension, bumping Frank Winterstein out of the 17. Sione Katoa replaces the injured Wayde Egan (shoulder) on the bench. James Maloney is facing a suspension for tripping at the judiciary on Tuesday night, meaning Katoa or rookie Matt Burton could partner Nathan Cleary in the halves. Last week's shock loss to the Bulldogs was bad for Cleary – who is now coming off scores of 38 and 39 – but good for James Fisher-Harris who made 42 tackles and a season-high 200 metres for 63 points. Brian To'o has now made $303k in price rises this year.
Sharks: Matt Moylan is out with concussion with Josh Dugan moving to fullback, Josh Morris switching to centre and Sosaia Feki on the wing. Andrew Fifita has just made his two lowest non-injury-affected scores of the year, 11 and 44, playing just 41 minutes off the bench in his return from suspension last week. His price is likely to fall below $650k next week. Shaun Johnson's last four scores are 67, 52, 76 and 60.
Dragons v Titans, Saturday 3pm at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium
Dragons: Blake Lawrie is out, with James Graham switching from lock to prop, Tyson Frizell named in the No.13 and Patrick Kaufusi joining the back row. Jackson Ford is the new name on the bench. Cameron McInnes has a three-game average of 70 and a five-game average of 69 and has well and truly joined the captaincy candidates conversation, making eight tackle busts and 55 tackles in last week's 88.
Titans: Michael Gordon (hamstring), Anthony Don and Jack Stockwell are out but Jai Arrow is back, with AJ Brimson at fullback, Jesse Arthars on the wing and Jai Whitbread starting at prop. Nathan Peats made 60 tackles against the Roosters but five missed tackles, a pair of errors and two penalties meant he scored just 42. Whitbread meanwhile scored 55 including 40 tackles.
Eels v Knights, Saturday 5.30pm at Bankwest Stadium
Eels: Parramatta are unchanged. Manu Ma'u has been a rock solid scorer of late, scoring between 57 and 61 in each of his last five games. Nathan Brown (52 last week) is another good back row option. Mitch Moses's price peaked last week at $808k.
Knights: Also unchanged. If it wasn't already obvious, Mitchell Pearce is a sell. Connor Watson scored strongly again at hooker with 59 last week, while David Klemmer continued to score strongly regardless of the team's poor form with 50.
Bulldogs v Wests Tigers, Saturday 7.35pm at ANZ Stadium
Bulldogs: Chris Smith replaces Adam Elliott (finger) at lock with Raymond Faitala-Mariner joining the bench. Aiden Tolman was sin-binned in his 200th game as a Bulldog and still scored 53, while Will Hopoate scored 58.
Wests Tigers: Unchanged. For the second straight week Robbie Farah scored a try and 66 Fantasy points, while Luke Brooks (64) and Esan Marsters (60) also went large against the Cowboys. Alex Twal's three-game average of 40 is a concern with the 48 minutes he played last week the fewest of any game this season.
Raiders v Roosters, Sunday 2pm at GIO Stadium
Raiders: Nick Cotric returns at centre, with Michael Oldfield dropping out of the 17. Ryan Sutton replaces Emre Guler on the bench. Josh Hodgson had season-highs for run metres (119) and tackle breaks (9) and scored a try for a terrific 87 points against the Warriors but he's up against a much tougher team here. John Bateman (74 last week, season average of 59) is some kind of superhero.
Roosters: Jared Waerea-Hargreaves returns at prop, Zane Tetevano goes back to the bench and Lindsay Collins drops out. James Tedesco was at his scintillating best against the Titans for 92 points and is obviously a must-have. Even without the try he scored on the way to 60 points Sam Verrills looks an intriguing buy – an 80-minute hooker (until Jake Friend returns in the NRL finals) for just $333k.
Rabbitohs v Storm, Sunday 4.05pm at Central Coast Stadium
Rabbitohs: South Sydney are unchanged. Usual suspects Cameron Murray (78) and Damien Cook (69) were excellent in last week's loss to Cronulla and should have plenty of defensive work ahead of them against Melbourne. Adam Reynolds meanwhile had a season-low score of 37, while Sam Burgess is fronting the judiciary on Tuesday night in a bid to have a high tackle charge downgraded.
Storm: Tui Kamikamica replaces Christian Welch (knee) on the bench. Cameron Smith narrowed the gap on Payne Haas in the Fantasy player of the year race with 74 last week, while Kenny Bromwich scored twice on the way to 89. Ryan Papenhuyzen has scored exactly one point per every minute played this year – an amazing record for a backline player – but his game time remains a bit of a lottery off the bench each week.