Adam Reynolds is good to go for his first clash with his former club, but a fellow star Bronco is under a big injury cloud.
Manly and Canberra have to fill significant holes after Karl Lawton and Jack Wighton copped suspensions, while Penrith’s Ivan Cleary and North Queensland’s Todd Payten have a big selection call to make.
Knights coach Adam O’Brien is considering a huge Ponga switch to reignite the Hunter side.
The David Fifita experiment has been put on ice with the star second-rower out for the next two-to-four weeks — but the spine shake-up is expected to stay.
Meanwhile, cavalry returns for the Warriors and a young Dragons gun may miss out on the 17 despite his impressive performance.
Read on for all the NRL Team Tips for Round 9.
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THURSDAY MAY 5
South Sydney Rabbitohs vs Brisbane Broncos at Accor Stadium, 7.50pm AEDT
Last week’s Rabbitohs team: 1. Blake Taaffe 2. Alex Johnston 3. Isaiah Tass 4. Campbell Graham 5. Josh Mansour 6. Cody Walker 7. Lachlan Ilias 8. Tevita Tatola 9. Damien Cook 10. Thomas Burgess 11. Keaon Koloamatangi 12. Jai Arrow 13. Cameron Murray 14. Siliva Havili 16. Davvy Moale 19. Jaxson Paulo 24. Shaq Mitchell
Team Tips: Isaiah Tass was impressive in the centres but with Taane Milne due back to suspension the 22-year-old rookie will make way, however given coach Jason Demetriou carried a back on his bench last week in Jaxson Paulo, Tass might keep a spot in the 17 with Paulo dropping out — but it’s worth noting Paulo didn’t get any game time. Hame Sele is also due back from a head knock and will likely push last week’s debutant Shaq Mitchell back to reserve grade.
Last week’s Broncos team: 1. Te Maire Martin 2. Corey Oates 3. Kotoni Staggs 4. Herbie Farnworth 5. Selwyn Cobbo 6. Tyson Gamble 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Corey Jensen 9. Billy Walters 10. Payne Haas 11. Kurt Capewell 12. Jordan Riki 13. Kobe Hetherington 14. Cory Paix 15. Rhys Kennedy 16. Thomas Flegler 17. Keenan Palasia
Team Tips: Adam Reynolds copped a knock to the nose last week and was forced from the field. The star halfback returned and finished out the game though so should be all good to take on his former club for the first time. Payne Haas, however, is under an injury cloud after aggravating his existing shoulder injury. Coach Kevin Walters conceded that “he is in doubt again for sure” and “if his shoulder is not right he won’t play.” The club later confirmed Haas suffered a Grade 1 strain to his AC joint and Head of performance Dave Ballard also stressed that “we will not be taking any risks” with him. If Haas is ruled out, Thomas Flegler will likely move into the starting side with Ryan James joining the bench.
FRIDAY MAY 6
Canberra Raiders vs Canterbury Bulldogs at GIO Stadium, 6.00pm AEDT
Last week’s Raiders team: 1. Jordan Rapana 2. Nick Cotric 3. Matthew Timoko 4. Semi Valemei 5. Xavier Savage 6. Jack Wighton 7. Brad Schneider 8. Josh Papalii’i 16. Adam Elliott 10. Joseph Tapine 11. Hudson Young 15. Corey Harawira-Naera 13. Ryan Sutton 9. Tom Starling 14. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 17. Corey Horsburgh 18. Harry Rushton
Team Tips: Jack Wighton will miss the next two games after taking the early guilty plea for a dangerous throw with Matt Frawley expected to replace him. Joe Tapine and Corey Horsburgh were also placed on report but were not charged and are free to play. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad didn’t get any minutes off the bench and played NSW Cup on Sunday so may miss out on the 17 altogether this week. Elliott Whitehead was a late scratching due to his facial injury but is expected to return this week. He will slot back in at lock with Ryan Sutton dropping back to the bench.
Last week’s Bulldogs team: 1. Matt Dufty 5. Josh Addo-Carr 3. Aaron Schoupp 4. Jake Averillo 21. Jayden Okunbor 6. Matt Burton 7. Kyle Flanagan 8. Luke Thompson 9. Jeremy Marshall-King 10. Paul Vaughan 11. Corey Waddell 12. Tevita Pangai Junior 16. Max King 14. Bailey Biondi-Odo 15. Joe Stimson 17. Ava Seumanufagai 23. Billy Tsikrikas
Team Tips: Jake Averillo passed his HIA late in the game and will be fine to take his place in the centres, while rookie Billy Tsikrikas will be unavailable after copping a one-game suspension for a dangerous contact charge. Skipper Josh Jackson will return at lock, pushing Max King back to the bench. Brandon Wakeham is also due back from a calf injury and may replace Bailey Biondi-Odo on the bench. Other than that, it’s unlikely coach Trent Barrett will make any unforced changes to the side that beat the Roosters.
Penrith Panthers vs Parramatta Eels at BlueBet Stadium, 7.55pm AEDT
Last week’s Panthers team: 1. Dylan Edwards 2. Charlie Staines 3. Izack Tago 4. Stephen Crichton 5. Taylan May 6. Jarome Luai 7. Nathan Cleary 8. Matt Eisenhuth 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. James Fisher-Harris 11. Viliame Kikau 12. Liam Martin 13. Isaah Yeo 14. Soni Luke 15. Scott Sorensen 16. Spencer Leniu 17. Jaeman Salmon
Team Tips: Coach Ivan Cleary said Brian To’o and Moses Leota are “a chance” to return this week from injury. It means Cleary will have to make a call on whether to axe Taylan May or Charlie Staines on the wing to make way for To’o. Leota may be eased back in off the bench though given he hasn’t played since Round 1. Scott Sorensen is under an injury cloud after he was spotted getting his elbow strapped during last week’s game. Cleary said it was a possible hyperextension and “we’ll see” when it comes to his availability.
Last week’s Eels team: Clinton Gutherson 2. Hayze Perham 3. Viliami Penisini 4. Dylan Brown 5. Bailey Simonsson 6. Jakob Arthur 7. Mitchell Moses 8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 9. Reed Mahoney 10. Junior Paulo 11. Shaun Lane 12. Isaiah Papali’i 13. Nathan Brown 14. Makahesi Makatoa 15. Ryan Matterson 16. Oregon Kaufusi 17. Bryce Cartwright
Team Tips: Parramatta’s backline woes may get some relief with Tom Opacic and Solomone Naiduki both pencilled in for a Round 9 return. Opacic would be a huge addition that would allow Dylan Brown to return to the halves. Even if the duo aren’t cleared for return the pressure is mounting on coach Brad Arthur to find another centre option so Brown can move back to five-eighth.
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SATURDAY MAY 7
Manly Sea Eagles vs Wests Tigers at 4 Pines Park, 3.00pm AEDT
Last week’s Sea Eagles team: 1. Reuben Garrick 2. Jason Saab 3. Brad Parker 4. Tolutau Koula 5. Christian Tuipulotu 6. Kieran Foran 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Sean Keppie 9. Lachlan Croker 17. Toafofoa Sipley 11. Karl Lawton 22. Josh Schuster 13. Jake Trbojevic 10. Martin Taupau 12. Ethan Bullemor 14. Dylan Walker 15. Ben Trbojevic
Team Tips: The big news heading into this round is that superstar fullback Tom Trbojevic is a chance of returning from a knee injury. Coach Des Hasler couldn’t give confirmation of Turbo’s return but said it was a “possibility.”Trbojevic’s addition would see Reuben Garrick return to the wing and Christian Tuipulotu drop out. Karl Lawton will miss the next four weeks after taking the early guilty plea for his dangerous throw on Cameron Murray. Haumole Olakau’atu returns from suspension and will be a straight swap with Lawton. Brad Parker picked up a knee injury in last week’s loss, which could see Morgan Harper return to the side after being axed in favour of Tolutau Koula, however Ben Trbojevic is also an option to replace Parker after he did so in the Rabbitohs game.
Last week’s Tigers team: 1. Starford To’a 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Luke Garner 4. Oliver Gildart 27. Asu Kepaoa 6. Luke Brooks 7. Jackson Hastings 8. James Tamou 9. Jacob Liddle 10. Zane Musgrove 11. Kelma Tuilagi 12. Luciano Leilua 13. Joe Ofahengaue 14. Jock Madden 15. Alex Twal 16. Thomas Mikaele 17. Alex Seyfarth.
Team Tips: Ken Maumalo is expected to be back in action after missing last week’s game due to a knee injury. The veteran winger will knock Asu Kepaoa out of the 17. Meanwhile, Jake Simpkin is also a chance of returning from an ankle injury which will force coach Michael Maguire to make a tough call on who wears the No.9 jersey. Jacob Liddle made a try-saving tackle in the Tigers’ Round 7 win over the Rabbitohs and then last weekend made 44 tackles with zero misses. Luciano Leilua picked up an injury late in the game and could be in some doubt.
MORE NRL NEWS
RD 8 TALKING POINTS: Problem Robbo can’t ignore; O’Brien ‘out of answers’
‘I DON’T KNOW: I’ll think of something’: Ponga response exposes Knights’ ugly mess
IN TROUBLE: NRL investigating Brandon Smith over crude comment
‘OFF MY HEAD’: Knights coach finds silver lining in thrashing
Sydney Roosters vs Gold Coast Titans at BB Print Stadium, 5.30pm AEDT
Last week’s Roosters team: 1. James Tedesco 2. Kevin Naiqama 4. Joseph Manu 22. Adam Keighran 5. Joseph Suaalii 6. Sam Walker 7. Luke Keary 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9. Sam Verrills 10. Lindsay Collins 11. Angus Crichton 12. Sitili Tupouniua 13. Victor Radley 14. Drew Hutchison 15. Fletcher Baker 16. Nat Butcher 17. Siosiua Taukeiaho
Team Tips: Paul Momirovski was a late scratching due to illness and is likely to come back into the 17, which would push Adam Keighran — who suffered an ankle injury in last week’s loss anyway — out of the 17. Daniel Tupou will return from suspension and replace Kevin Naiqama on the wing.
Last week’s Titans team: 1. AJ Brimson 5. Greg Marzhew 3. Brian Kelly 4. Patrick Herbert 23. Corey Thompson 6. Will Smith 7. Toby Sexton 8. Moeaki Fotuaika 9. Erin Clark 10. Isaac Liu 17. Kevin Proctor 12. Beau Fermor 13. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui 11. David Fifita 14. Tanah Boyd 15. Sam Lisone 16. Herman Ese’ese
Team Tips: David Fifita suffered a knee injury and will now spend up to four weeks on the sidelines after scans revealed a Grade 2 MCL sprain. Given he was swapped with Kevin Proctor before kick-off, Proctor will likely be named to start this week with Jarrod Wallace or Sam McIntyre likely to join the bench. AJ Brimson will likely remain at fullback with coach Justin Holbrook saying after last week’s loss that he was the “best player on the field.” Holbrook also said Will Smith “tried so hard and brought experience to our side” while playing five-eighth. Holbrook believes the spine changes “were right” despite the loss, which means Jayden Campbell will have to continue biding his time in reserve grade.
North Queensland Cowboys vs Newcastle Knights at Queensland Country Bank Stadium, 7.35pm AEDT
Last week’s Cowboys team: 1. Scott Drinkwater 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Valentine Holmes 4. Peta Hiku 5. Murray Taulagi 6. Tom Dearden 7. Chad Townsend 8. Jordan McLean 9. Reece Robson 16. Reuben Cotter 12. Jeremiah Nanai 15. Tom Gilbert 13. Jason Taumalolo 10. Coen Hess 11. Heilum Luki 17. Griffin Neame 19. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow
Team Tips: The Cowboys are flying high with no new injury concerns. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow returned via the bench last week but all eyes will be on coach Todd Payten’s team list on Tuesday to see what he does with Scott Drinkwater who has been one of the Cowboys’ best over the last three weeks.
Last week’s Knights team: 1. Kalyn Ponga 2. Edrick Lee 3. Simi Sasagi 4. Bradman Best 5. Enari Tuala 6. Jake Clifford 7. Adam Clune 8. David Klemmer 9. Chris Randall 10. Daniel Saifiti 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Brodie Jones 17. Sauaso Sue 14. Phoenix Crossland 15. Jacob Saifiti 16. Leo Thompson 19. Jack Johns
Team Tips: Despite another disappointing loss coach Adam O’Brien conceded he doesn’t have enough healthy players to make any unforced changes to his side. Adam Clune’s ongoing knee injury was a concern last Sunday, while Jake Clifford was hooked in the second half. However both are expected to play. Phoenix Crossland replaced Clifford but left the field in the last 10 minutes due to a HIA. The good news is that Kurt Mann is expected to return after being a late scratching last week and will be a straight swap for Sauaso Sue after he failed his HIA early in the game. Meanwhile, O’Brien is reportedly considering a positional switch for his million-dollar man. The Daily Telegraph’s Buzz Rothfield said on NRL360 the under pressure coach could potentially look to bring Ponga closer to the ball in the halves.
“I think they got to give consideration now, in desperation to get Ponga closer to the ball,” Rothfield said.
“I spoke to Adam O’Brien as I was driving over here and I think it is being discussed.
“This Ponga switch, he doesn’t know whether to do it because he has got Milford in Round 11, moving Ponga for two weeks.”
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SUNDAY MAY 8
Melbourne Storm vs St George Illawarra Dragons at AAMI Park, 2.00pm AEDT
Last week’s Storm team: 1. Ryan Papenhuyzen 2. Nick Meaney 3. Reimis Smith 4. Justin Olam 5. Xavier Coates 6. Cameron Munster 7. Jahrome Hughes 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Harry Grant 10. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Kenny Bromwich 13. Josh King 14. Brandon Smith 15. Tyran Wishart 16. Trent Loiero 17. Tepai Moeroa
Team Tips: Tepai Moeroa suffered a shoulder injury not long after scoring a try on Sunday and was forced from the field early. Tom Eisenhuth is free to play after Covid-19 protocols made him unavailable last week and could be an option to come onto the bench, along with Jordan Grant and or Alec MacDonald. Tui Kamikamica returned to the field last weekend via Queensland Cup after his assault charges were dropped but it’s likely the prop will spend more time in reserve grade before returning to the NRL.
Last week’s Dragons team: 1. Moses Mbye 2. Mathew Feagai 3. Moses Suli 4. Zac Lomax 5. Mikaele Ravalawa 14. Talatau Amone 7. Ben Hunt 8. Francis Molo 9. Andrew McCullough 10. George Burgess 11. Tariq Sims 12. Josh McGuire 13. Jack de Belin 15. Blake Lawrie 16. Aaron Woods 17. Tyrell Fuimaono 24. Jayden Sullivan
Team Tips: Jack Bird is a good chance of returning after coach Anthony Griffin revealed he was very close to playing against the Tigers. Bird’s return would likely see Talatau Amone move back to the bench and Jayden Sullivan left out of the 17 despite his impressive performance off the bench. Jaydn Su’A is unlikely to return from the ankle injury that ruled him out of last week which means the pack is expected to stay the same.
Cronulla Sharks vs Warriors at PointsBet Stadium, 4.05pm AEDT
Last week’s Sharks team: 1. Will Kennedy 2. Sione Katoa 3. Jesse Ramien 4. Siosifa Talakai 5. Ronaldo Mulitalo 6. Matt Moylan 7. Nicho Hynes 8. Toby Rudolf 9. Blayke Brailey 16. Royce Hunt 11. Briton Nikora 12. Teig Wilton 15. Cameron McInnes 10. Aiden Tolman 14. Jack Williams 18. Braydon Trindall 19. Wade Graham
Team Tips: Dale Finucane is expected to return from a concussion as well as a calf complaint and will push Cameron McInnes back to the bench with Jack Williams likely to drop out of the side. Skipper Wade Graham played 23 minutes off the bench in his return from an ankle injury and may return to the run-on side in place of Teig Wilton.
Last week’s Warriors team: 1. Reece Walsh 3. Jesse Arthars 2. Rocco Berry 5. Viliami Vailea 4. Adam Pompey 21. Daejarn Asi 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Addin Fonua-Blake 9. Wayde Egan 10. Matt Lodge 11. Euan Aitken 12. Bayley Sironen 13. Jazz Tevaga 15. Bunty Afoa 16. Eliesa Katoa 17. Jack Murchie 20. Ben Murdoch-Masila
Team Tips: Kodi Nikorima will come into contention for the halves after missing last week due to Covid-19 protocols, however it’ll be hard to overlook last week’s club debutant Daejarn Asi after his impressive performance at five-eighth. Aaron Pene is due back from suspension and will likely come onto the bench, while Dallin Watene-Zelezniak is also due back from a head knock and will take his place on the wing with Viliami Vailea likely to make way.
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