Josh Mansour has paid the price for South Sydney's loss to Melbourne and teenage playmaker Sam Walker has taken another step towards an NRL debut for Sydney Roosters.
Mansour’s axing, along with Rabbitohs team-mate Jacob Host, and the selection of Walker in the Roosters squad are two of the major talking points from round two team selections.
Among others is the return of Dragons five-eighth Corey Norman, Moses Mbye’s move to the Wests Tigers interchange and utility Cade Cust’s call-up for Manly.
With Roosters captain Jake Friend ruled out after failing a HIA in last Saturday’s 46-4 rout of Manly and utility Adam Keighran suffering a wrist injury in the same match, Walker may finally get his shot at the NRL alongside rookie forward Fletcher Baker.
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The 18-year-old halfback was listed among the reserves for Sunday’s clash against Wests Tigers and Roosters coach Trent Robinson is expected to decide between Walker and Drew Hutchison for the bench utility role.
The unavailability of Sam Verrills and Victor Radley has forced Robinson to select Freddy Lussick in the No.9 jersey and he could use five-eighth Lachlan Lam to deputise at dummy half, with Walker coming on in a playmaking role.
Walker, the son of former Broncos, Eagles and Rabbitohs playmaker Ben Walker, spent 18 months on the sideline with injuries before starring for North Sydney in last weekend’s NSW Cup defeat of Blacktown.
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Former NSW Origin playmaker and St George Illawarra premiership winner Jamie Soward said after watching the match that Walker was ready for NRL action and declared he was ahead of 17-year-old Roosters recruit Joseph Suaalii at this stage of their careers.
"He is class, he got three try assists and is just a ball player," Soward told Inside The NRL. "He still needs to fill out a bit but he is a good 'un. I think he is better than Suaalii."
Baker, another Roosters rookie, is set to make his NRL debut after being named on the interchange bench following the suspension of NSW Origin second-rower Angus Crichton. Nat Butcher moves to into the starting 13.
Meanwhile, Mansour and Host were dropped for South Sydney’s match against Manly following last Thursday night’s 26-18 loss to the Storm in Melbourne.
The pair have been named in the the Rabbitohs' NSW Cup team to play Blacktown Workers this weekend.
Mansour was a member of the Penrith team which won 17 consecutive matches last season before losing to Melbourne in the grand final and he joined the Rabbitohs after being offered a release to enable the Panthers to re-sign some of their young outside backs.
A South Sydney junior, much was made of the Lebanon international and former NSW Origin winger’s homecoming but he has lost his spot to Jaxson Paulo after just one appearance.
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Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett has named prop Thomas Burgess to start in the front row after being taken from the field in a neck brace against the Storm, and Keaon Koloamtangi has been promoted from the interchange to the second-row.
With Host axed, prop Patrick Mago comes into the top 17-man squad.
Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler has largely stuck solid with the team stunned by the Roosters last Saturday, with Cust’s selection on the interchange the only significant change.
The utility starred at hooker in the NSW Cup and he is expected to share the dummy-half duties with Lachlan Croker, who played 80 minutes in the position for the first time against the Roosters.
In other team news, Norman returns from a one-match suspension for his involvement in a street fight at Cronulla and replaces Adam Clune at five-eighth for the Dragons' trip to North Queensland.
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The selection of Norman is the only change from the side beaten 32-18 by Cronulla last Sunday night, with injured winger Cody Ramsey expected to be fit.
The Sharks have lost centre Jesse Ramien to suspension for a high shot on Matt Dufty and he will be replaced by Mawene Hiroti, who hails from New Plymouth and made two NRL appearances last year after joining Cronulla from South Sydney.
Tigers five-eighth Adam Doeuihi returns from suspension to partner Luke Brooks in the halves, forcing Mbye to shift to the interchange, where he will perform the role of bench utility.
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