Melbourne will rest Cameron Smith for the final game of the regular season.
Craig Bellamy will sideline a number of his stars for the Storm’s clash with the Dragons on Sunday with Cameron Munster, Jahrome Hughes, Jesse Bromwich, Kenny Bromwich, Josh Addo-Carr, Justin Olam and Suliasi Vunivalu all sidelined.
But the real surprise is Smith, who is rarely ever rested.
Kiwi Test star Brandon Smith will replace his skipper at hooker.
— Nick Campton
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RAIDERS REST NINE PLAYERS
Raiders coach Ricky Stuart has made the stunning decision to rest nine NRL stars ahead of this weekend’s clash with Cronulla including Jack Wighton, Josh Papalii, George Williams and Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad.
In all, Stuart has gone with a virtually unrecognisable line-up that includes seven players from the Raiders under-20s side last year, with debutant Adam Cook to start at fullback.
Fellow NRL debutants Jarrett Subloo and Darby Medlyn will also pull on the green for the first time against the Sharks on Saturday afternoon at Jubilee Oval.
The Raiders can still make the top-four with a win, but Stuart would prefer to have his big guns rested and ready for week one of the finals.
The new-look Raiders halves are Matt Frawley and Sam Williams, while incredibly the ultimate warrior Sia Soliola will make his comeback from a severe facial fracture in the front-row.
— David Riccio
Early Mail: Predicted changes for round 20
Casualty ward: NRL Physio’s full analysis
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SHARKS NAME SHOCK JOHNSON REPLACEMENT
Wade Graham will play his first game in the halves in five years with the star backrower to replace Shaun Johnson for Cronulla’s clash with Canberra.
Graham came through the grades at Penrith as a five-eighth but has spent nearly all of his time with the Sharks in the backrow since he joined the club in 2011.
But with Johnson and Matt Moylan missing due to injury and Chad Townsend still suspended, John Morris will pitch Graham into the number six jersey alongside halfback Connor Tracey.
Rookie halfback Braydon Trindall has been named on an extended bench.
Josh Dugan and Sione Katoa are also out for the Sharks with Nene Macdonald and Mawene Hiroti to come in at wing and centre respectively.
The Sharks are all but locked into eighth spot and will likely play the Raiders again in the first week of the finals.
— Nick Campton
BRONCOS V COWBOYS
Thursday, 24 September, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, 7:50pm
Broncos: 1. Darius Boyd, 2. Xavier Coates, 3. Jesse Arthars, 4. Herbie Farnworth, 5. Richard Kennar, 6. Kotoni Staggs, 7. Tom Dearden, 8. Joe Ofahengaue, 9. Issac Luke, 10. Payne Haas, 11. Jordan Rikki, 12. Alex Glenn, 13. Patrick Carrigan.
Interchange: 14. Cory Paix, 15. Ben Te’o 16. Corey Oates, 17. Jamil Hopoate
Reserves: 18. Rhys Kennedy, 19. Ethan Bullemor, 20. Sean O’Sullivan, 21. Brodie Croft
Broncos comment: Peter Gentle has made his final call as caretaker coach of the Broncos by dropping Maroons Origin representative Corey Oates to the interchange bench and promoting Xavier Coates to start on the wing in his place. David Fifita (ankle) is out replaced by hulking youngster Jordan Rikki who returns from suspension. Kotoni Staggs shifts from centre to five-eighth to replace Tyson Gamble while Jesse Arthars comes in at centre to replace Staggs. Payne Haas is a BIG return and his inclusion sees Ben Te’o move to the interchange bench.
Cowboys: 1. Valentine Holmes, 2. Kyle Feldt, 3. Murray Taulagil, 4. Daejarn Asi, 5. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, 6. Scott Drinkwater, 7. Jake Clifford, 8. Josh McGuire, 9. Reuben Cotter, 10. Jordan McLean (c), 11. Gavin Cooper, 12. Mitchell Dunn, 13. Jason Taumalolo
Interchange: 14. John Asiata, 15. Tom Gilbert, 16. Corey Jensen, 17. Francis Molo
Reserves: 18. Emry Pere, 19. Jake Granville, 20. Ben Condon, 21. Justin O’Neil
Cowboys comment: Josh McGuire (suspension) returns at prop which sees Corey Jensen move to the interchange bench while Gavin Cooper will start in his final NRL game and he’s joined in the 13 by Jason Taumalolo. John Asiata (suspension) returns and Tom Gilbert goes to the bench, for Cooper, which sees Emry Pere and Ben Condon slide out of the 17.
TITANS V KNIGHTS
Friday 25 September, Cbus Super Stadium, Gold Coast, 6:00pm
Titans: 1. AJ Brimson, 2. Anthony Don, 3. Brain Kelly, 4. Young Tonumaipea, 5. Treymain Spry, 6. Ashley Taylor, 7. Jamal Fogarty, 8. Jarrod Wallace, 9. Mitch Rein, 10. Moeaki Fotuaika, 11. Kevin Proctor, 12. Sam Stone, 13. Tyrone Peachey
Interchange: 14. Tanah Boyd, 15. Sam Lisone, 16. Jai Arrow, 17. Jai Whitbread
Reserves: 18. Darius Farmer, 19. Corey Thompson, 20. Phillip Sami, 21. Nathan Peats
Titans comment: Brian Kelly returns from injury and slots into the centres with Treymain Spry moving to the wing in place of a banged up Corey Thompson.
Knights: 1. Kalyn Ponga, 2. Edrick Lee, 3. Enari Tuala, 4. Bradman Best, 5. Hymel Hunt, 6. Mason Lino, 7. Mitchell Pearce (c), 8. David Klemmer, 9. Kurt Mann, 10. Daniel Saifiti, 11. Sione Mata’utia, 12. Aidan Guerra, 13. Mitchell Barnett
Interchange: 14. Chris Randall, 15. Jacob Saifiti, 16. Herman Ese’ese, 17. Brodie Jones
Reserves: 18. Josh King, 19. Gehamet Shibasaki, 20. Starford To’a, 21. Jirah Momoisea
Knights comment: Bradman Best is back and he’s joined in the backline by last week’s late withdrawal Edrick Lee with Enari Tuala and Gehamat Shibasaki making way. Kurt Mann returns after a break and will start at hooker for Chris Randall (interchange) while Lachlan Fitzgibbon is replaced on an edge by Sione Mata’utia which sees Brodie Jones come on to the interchange.
RABBITOHS V ROOSTERS
Friday 25 September, ANZ Stadium, Sydney, 7:55pm
Rabbitohs: 1. Corey Allan, 2. Alex Johnston, 3. Campbell Graham, 4. Dane Gagai, 5. Jaxson Pauloi, 6. Cody Walker, 7. Adam Reynolds (c), 8. Liam Knight, 9. Damien Cook, 10. Thomas Burgess, 11. Jed Cartwright, 12. Bayley Sironen, 13. Cameron Murray
Interchange: 14. Mark Nicholls, 15. Hame Sele, 16. Patrick Mago, 17. Keaon Koloamatangi
Reserves: 18. Tevita Tatola, 19. Jack Johns, 20. Troy Dargan 21. Cory Denniss
Rabbitohs comment: Dane Gagai returns from a one week suspension and he’ll play centre in place of Steven Marsters. Jaydn Su’a is suspended which means a start for Jed Cartwright with Patrick Mago coming on the interchange.
Roosters: 1. James Tedesco, 2. Daniel Tupou, 3. Josh Morris, 4. Mitchell Aubusson, 5. Brett Morris, 6. Luke Keary, 7. Kyle Flanagan, 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, 9. Jake Friend (c), 10. Siosiua Taukeiaho, 11. Boyd Cordner, 12. Sitili Tupouniua, 13. Angus Crichton
Interchange: 14. Lachlan Lam, 15. Poasa Faamausili, 16. Nat Butcher, 17. Sonny Bill Williams
Reserves: 18. Matt Ikuvalu, 19. Daniel Fifita, 20. Freddy Lusick, 21. Ryan Hall
Roosters comment: Co-skippers Jake Friend and Boyd Cordner return. Friend resumes his hooker role in place of Freddy Lussick while Cordner starts on an edge. Isaac Liu is rested so Angus Crichton shifts from an edge to lock. Lachlan Lam is back from injury and he comes in as bench utility in place of Drew Hutchison. Joey Manu has been rested.
BULLDOGS V PANTHERS
Saturday 26 September, ANZ Stadium, Sydney, 3:00pm
Bulldogs: 1. Will Hopoate, 2. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, 3. Reimis Smith, 4. Tim Lafai, 5. Jayden Okunbor, 6. Jake Averillo, 7. Lachlan Lewis, 8. Aiden Tolman, 9. Jeremy Marshall-King, 10. Luke Thompson, 11. Chris Smith 12. Raymond Faitala-Mariner, 13. Josh Jackson
Interchange: 14. Brandon Wakeham, 15. Renouf To’omaga, 16. Sione Katoa 17. Sauaso Sue
Reserves: 19. Dean Britt 20. Jack Cogger 21. Tuipulotu Katoa, 22. Kerrod Holland
Bulldogs comment: Just one change for the Bulldogs with Josh Jackson and Chris Smith switching between second row and lock respectively.
Panthers: 1. Daine Laurie, 2. Josh Mansour, 3. Brent Naden, 4. Stephen Crichton, 5. Brain To’o, 6. Jarome Luai, 7. Nathan Cleary, 8. James Tamou, 9. Api Koroisau, 10. James Fisher-Harris, 11. Kurt Capewell, 12. Liam Martin, 13. Isaah Yeo
Interchange: 14. Matt Burton, 15. Spencer Leniu, 16. Moses Leota 17 Zane Tetevano
Reserves: 18. Mitch Kenny 19. Dean Whare 20. Jack Hetheringot 21. Billy Burns
Panthers comment: Changes galore at the Panthers. Dylan Edwards is rested with Daine Laurie to start at fullback and Viliame Kikau also getting a break with Kurt Capewell to start at second row. Api Koroisau, James Tamou and Zane Tetevano all return after being rested last week. Tyrone May gets a break with Matt Burton on the interchange and Jack Hetherington is dropped to the reserves.
SHARKS V RAIDERS
Saturday 26 September, Netsrata Jubilee Stadium, Sydney, 5:30pm
Sharks: 1. William Kennedy, 2. Nene McDonald, 3. Mawene Hiroti, 4. Jesse Ramien, 5. Ronaldo Mulitalo, 6. Wade Graham, 7. Connor Tracey, 8. Braden Hamlin-Uele, 9. Blayke Brailey, 10. Aaron Woods, 11. Briton Nikora, 12. Siosifa Talakai, 13. Toby Rudolf
Interchange: 14. Scott Sorensen, 15. Jack Williams, 16. Andrew Fifita, 17. Teig Wilton
Reserves: 18. Billy Magoulias 19. Braydon Trindall, 20. Bryson Goodwin, 21. Daniel Vasquez
Sharks comment: Wade Graham will play his first game in the halves in five years with the star backrower to replace Shaun Johnson in the halves for Cronulla’s clash with Canberra. Rookie halfback Braydon Trindall has been named on an extended bench.
Josh Dugan and Sione Katoa are also out for the Sharks with Nene Macdonald and Mawene Hiroti to come in at wing and centre respectively.
Raiders: 1. Adam Cook, 2. Sami Valemei, 3. Matthew Timoko, 4. Harley Smith-Shields, 5. Nick Cotric, 6. Matt Frawleyn, 7. Sam Williams, 8. Dunamis Lui, 9. Tom Starling, 10. Sia Soliola, 11. JHudson Young, 12. Corey Harawira-Naera, 13. Saliva Havili
Interchange: 14. Kai O’Donnell, 15. Ryan Sutton, 16. Darby Medlyn, 17. Jarrett Subloo
Reserves: 18. Ata Mariota, 19. Joe Tapine, 20. Jack Wighton, 21. Elliot Whitehead
Raiders comment: Absolute carnags at at the Raiders! With Ricky Stuart resting – among others – stars Jack Wighton, Josh Papalii, George Williams and Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad. Debutant Adam Cook will start at fullback while Sam Williams and Matt Frawley are the new halves pairing. Sia Soliola returns after missing a number of weeks due to a gruesome facial injury. Jarrod Croker and Jordan Rapana are both rested which sees a new centre pairing of Matt Timoko and Harley Smith-Shields. John Bateman is out despite early reports to the contrary as is his English edge mate in Elliot Whitehead, lock Joseph Tapne is out too. The new backrow will be Hudson Young, Corey Harawirs-Naera and Siliva Havili. Kai O’Donnell, Darby Medlyn and Jarrett Subloo are the fresh faces on the interchange.
WESTS TIGERS V EELS
Saturday 26 September, Bankwest Stadium, Sydney, 7:35pm
Wests Tigers: 1. Adam Doueihi, 2. David Nofoaluma, 3. Tommy Talau, 4. Chris Lawrence, 5. Asu Kepaoa, 6. Benji Marshall, 7. Luke Brooks, 8. Zane Musgrove, 9. Harry Grant, 10. Thomas Mikaele, 11. Luke Garner, 12. Luciano Leilua, 13. Alex Twal
Interchange: 14. Matthew Eisenhuth, 15. Elijah Taylor, 16. Shawn Blore, 17. Michael Chee-Kam
Reserves: 18. Alex Seyfarth, 19. Jacob Liddle 20. Josh Reynolds. 21. Joseph Leilua
Wests Tigers comment: Joey Leilua is dropped, replaced at centre by Tommy Talau. Luke Brooks returns from suspension which sees Josh Reynolds drop to the reserves. Josh Aloiai (knee) is replaced by Zane Musgrove while Sam McIntyre (HIA) is replaced by Luke Garner on an edge. Alex Twal starts at lock. Fresh faces on the interchange with Elijah Taylor, Shawn Blore and Michael Chee-Kam coming in.
Eels: 1. Clint Gutherson (c), 2. Maika Sivo, 3. Michael Jennings, 4. Waqa Blake, 5. Blake Ferguson, 6. Jai Field, 7. Mitch Moses, 8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard, 9. Reed Mahoney, 10. Junior Paulo, 11. Shaun Lane, 12. Ryan Matterson, 13. Nathan Brown
Interchange: 14. Will Smith, 15. Andrew Davey, 16. Kane Evans, 17. Oregon Kaufusi
Reserves: 18. Haze Dunster, 19. Brad Takarangi, 20. George Jennings, 21. Daniel Alvaro
No changes for Eels – huzzah!
WARRIORS V SEA EAGLES
Sunday 27 September, Central Coast Stadium, Central Coast, 2:00pm
Warriors: 1. Peta Hiku, 2. Adam Pompey, 3. Adam Keighran, 4. Hayze Perham, 5. Patrick Herbert, 6. Kodi Nikorima, 7. Chanel Harris-Tavita, 8. Lachlan Burr, 9. Karl Lawton, 10. Isaiah Papali’i, 11. Eliesa Katoa, 12. Tohu Harris, 13. Jazz Tevaga
Interchange: 14. Wayde Egan, 15. Adam Blair, 16. Jack Murchie, 17. Jamayne Taunoa-Brown
Reserves: 18. Josh Curran, 20. Paul Turner, 21. Gerard Beale, 22. Tom Ale
Warriors comment: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (hamstring) is replaced at fullback by Peta Hiku. Hayze Perham shifts to centre for Hiku and Patrick Herbert (hamstring) returns on the wing. Eliesa Katoa (hand) returns from injury in the pack. Jamayne Taunoa-Brown returns on the interchange with Tom Ale and Josh Curran dropping off.
Sea Eagles: 1. Tevita Funa 2. Abbas Miski 3. Brad Parker 4. Morgan Harper, 5. Reuben Garrick 6. Lachlan Croker 7. Daly Cherry-Evans (c) 8. Taniela Paseka 9. Danny Levi 10. Martin Taupau 11. Corey Waddell 12. Curtis Sironen 13. Jake Trbojevic
Interchange: 14. Albert Hopoate, 15. Morgan Boyle, 16. Sean Keppie 17. Haumole Olakau’atu
Reserves: 18. Ben Trbojevic, 19. Luke Metcalf, 20. Toafofoa Sipley, 21. Sione Fainu
Sea Eagles comment: Tom Trbojevic (shoulder) and Jack Gosiewski (hamstring) are out. Trbojevic is replaced by Tevita Funa at fullback with Reuben Garrick (shoulder) returning on the wing. Corey Waddell starts in the second row for Gosiewski. Haumole Olakau’atu joins the bench. Abbas Miski starts on the other wing with Albert Hopoate dropping to the interchange.
DRAGONS V STORM
Sunday 27 September, Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, Sydney, 4:05pm
Dragons: 1. Matthew Dufty, 2. Max Feagai, 3. Euan Aitken, 4. Zac Lomax, 5. Cody Ramsey, 6. Jayden Sullivan, 7. Adam Clune, 8. Blake Lawrie, 9. Cameron McInnes, 10. Paul Vaughan, 11. Tyson Frizell, 12. Jacob Host, 13. Jackson Ford (c)
Interchange: 14. Tariq Sims, 15. Kaide Ellis, 16. Josh Kerr, 17. Eddie Blacker
Reserves: 18. Brayden Wiliame, 19. Corey Norman, 20. Jordan Pereira, 21. Tyrell Fuimaono
Dragons comment: Two debutants with Jayden Sullivan in the halves and middle forward Eddie Blacker on the bench. Adam Clune returns from injury at halfback with Ben Hunt (suspension) and Corey Norman (dropped) both out. Jordan Pereira has also been dropped to reserves with Max Feagai to start on the wing. Euan Aitken (hamstring) returns at centre for Brayden Wiliame.
Storm: 1. Ryan Papenhuyzen, 2. Sandor Earl, 3. Ricky Leutele, 4. Paul Momirovski, 5. Isaac Lumelume, 6. Ryley Jacks, 7. Cooper Johns, 8. Tui Kamikamica, 9. Brandon Smith (c), 10. Christian Welch, 11. Tom Eisenhuth, 12. Chris Lewis, 13. Max King
Interchange: 14. Nicho Hynes, 15. Darryn Schonig, 16. Albert Vete, 17. Aaron Pene
Reserves: 18. Aaron Booth, 19. Dean Ieremia, 20. Trent Loiero, 21. Judda Turahui
Storm comment: Melbourne Storm has named an unprecedented 16 possible inclusions for Sunday’s dead-rubber against St George Illawarra at Kogarah. Only five players from the side that defeated Wests 50-22 last Saturday will back-up for the home-and-away season finale. Ryan Papenhuyzen, who will captain the side in the absence of the entire five-man Storm leadership group headed by Cameron Smith, and Christian Welch will return for a pre-finals tune-up after missing the past two matches through injury and suspension. Loaned centre Paul Momirovski will get the chance to stake claim on a starting position after missing two months of action, while Super League recruit Ricky Leutele will make his Storm debut. Cooper Johns and Ryley Jacks will pair up in the halves, with Brandon Smith at hooker. Nicho Hynes, Darren Schonig, Albert Vete and Aaron Pene round out the top 17 from a host of young and development players.
– Gilbert Gardiner