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Team list tips: Eels to sit out 'seven or eight'; Reynolds eyes rest

Parramatta are set to rest up to "seven or eight" players against Penrith this weekend to ensure the Eels aren't caught with anyone being underdone like in last year's finals fade-out.

Eels captain Clint Gutherson will sit out his first game since 2018 and will be joined on the sidelines by Junior Paulo, who has been suspended for one game for a shoulder charge. 

Back-rowers Marata Niukora and Shaun Lane both suffered head knocks in Saturday's upset of Melbourne and are likely to be kept on ice given they are on a six-day turnaround.

Lock Nathan Brown is another candidate having played 22 games this year, while halves Mitch Moses and Dylan Brown have also borne heavy workloads around suspension and injury lay-offs this season.

Big-name backline casualties in last year's finals series led to the likes of George Jennings and Haze Dunster being pitched into a sudden-death final boasting only one NRL game between them across the entire 2020 season, with COVID-19 also forcing NSW Cup games to be cancelled.

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Coach Brad Arthur told SEN Radio that given a top-four finish requires a Manly loss and the Eels to upset Penrith, he will look to build up game time across his squad leading into week one of the finals.

"The plan is to rest probably seven or eight of them, and Gutho is one of them," Arthur said on Monday.

"A lot of our boys have played every game and in the last couple of years, we’ve had a bit of momentum going into finals and it hasn’t really made a difference.

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"Last year in our second final we had three blokes that hadn’t played in a couple of months had to come in once we had injuries.

"We’re going to make sure everyone in our squad gets a game out … that equals more competition for spots, and we’ve got a healthy roster of blokes who are ready when called upon."

Four-game Rabbitohs rookie Blake Taafe looms as Latrell Mitchell's lightweight replacement meanwhile as captain Adam Reynolds is also set to sit out a final-round clash with the Dragons.

Reynolds has pulled up fine from a knee scare that briefly forced him from the field against the Roosters, but despite completing training on Monday is expected to be rested alongside several teammates.

"I just hyper-extended it there and felt something at the back," Reynolds said of his knee issue.

"They weren't too concerned about it, obviously I went [back] out there.

"It's a little tender today but I got through training, it's feeling all OK. I'm pretty much resting I think."

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Along with Mitchell, middle forward Liam Knight has also accepted a two-game ban for a hip-drop tackle that rules him out until week two of the finals.

Hame Sele is Knight's likely replacement on the bench.

Storm captain Jesse Bromwich accepted a one-game suspension for a crusher tackle rather than risking doubling the ban at the judiciary while Origin flyer Josh Addo-Carr (hamstring) is already a confirmed out for Melbourne's match against Cronulla.

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Addo-Carr's hamstring issue is believed to be a 1-2 week injury.

Coach Craig Bellamy intends to still rest players for the Sharks clash despite the Eels upset, while the Roosters are hopeful Josh Morris will be able to return from a hamstring issue as Manu's replacement against Canberra.

Titans co-captain Kevin Proctor will have his training loads managed throughout the week due to his ongoing shoulder AC joint sprain while the club announced on Monday that Ash Taylor had responded well to bilateral hip cortisone injections and is likely to be available for selection.

Finals contenders team tips

Storm

Jesse Bromwich (suspension) and Josh Addo-Carr (hamstring) will miss round 25 while Nelson Asofa-Solomona (hamstring) and Dale Finucane (head knock) should return to the pack.

Dean Ieremia is the likely replacement for Addo-Carr while Finucane's return could allow Harry Grant to revert to the bench with Brandon Smith shifting from lock to starting hooker.

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Panthers 

The Panthers are a chance of having Matt Eisenhuth (ribs) and Spencer Leniu (ankle) available for their final-round clash against the Eels, with the minor premiership still on offer if the Storm lose to the Sharks in the early Friday game.

Rabbitohs

Fullback Latrell Mitchell (suspension) will miss the rest of the season with Blake Taaffe the most likely replacement at the back. Halfback Adam Reynolds (knee) is a huge chance of a rest with the club certain to finish second or third and Benji Marshall ready to slot in.

Damien Cook was managing a quad strain last week and is another resting candidate. Liam Knight has also taken the early plea to a hip drop charge and will miss two weeks with Hame Sele likely to get a run.

Sea Eagles

Sean Keppie (personal leave) and Taniela Paseka (ankle) could be available for selection in round 25.

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Manly avoided any injuries or suspensions from Sunday's clash with the Bulldogs and few changes are expected given the club needs to beat the Cowboys in the final round to press for a top-four finish.

Eels

Junior Paulo took an early guilty plea for a shoulder charge and will miss one match while fullback Clint Gutherson (knee) is a certainty to be rested, according to Eels coach Brad Arthur. Will Smith is the likely stand-in fullback with Michael Oldfield another option.

Shaun Lane and Marata Niukore (failed HIAs) are expected to be kept on ice.

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Centre Tom Opacic (ribs) should be available but would have to displace impressive rookie Will Penisini.

Roosters

Centre Joey Manu (facial fracture) joins the team's long injury list with Josh Morris (hamstring) set to return as his replacement in the centre, as Adam Keighran (head knock) is also expected to be available. Angus Crichton will return from suspension.

Siosiua Taukeiaho (knee) has avoided serious injury and could play while fellow forwards Ben Thomas and Egan Butcher (head knocks) will be monitored.

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Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (knee) should be back but Fletcher Baker will miss the Raiders rumble through suspension.

Knights

David Klemmer will return from suspension with Jirah Momoisea most likely to make way from the 17.

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With the club guaranteed of finishing seventh, coach Adam O'Brien has the option of resting players.

Sharks

The Sharks have no forced changes and no players set to return in round 25.

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Raiders

Winger Bailey Simonsson is set to be forced out with a groin strain, meaning Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad likely makes his first run-on start since returning from a neck injury with Jordan Rapana to shift to the wing.

Joseph Tapine suffered a knee injury in round 24 but was able to return, with Dunamis Lui likely to come in if Tapine were to be ruled out.

Titans

The Titans may consider starting Toby Sexton or Ash Taylor in the halves ahead of Tyrone Peachey, and could consider starting David Fifita in what is a must-win game in which they will also need a differential boost to have any chance of making the finals.

Kevin Proctor will have his training loads managed throughout the week due to his ongoing shoulder AC joint sprain while the club announced Taylor had responded well to bilateral hip cortisone injections and is likely to be available for selection.