NRL saddles up for the 12th round of the season. Fatigue among returning Origin players may be a factor in the earlier weekend matches. Many players will still be feeling the effects of Wednesday’s clash.
Penrith Panthers vs Parramatta Eels
In a western Sydney derby, the Panthers welcome the return of halfback Peter Wallace and winger Josh Mansour from knee injuries. With the added bonus of Matt Moylan back fresh and keen from the Blues camp and with-little-to-no players fatigued from Origin, the team should will be fresh and ready to perform.
The Eels on the other hand have had a big reshuffle after last weekend’s heartbreaking loss to the Rabbitohs. Chris Sandow will return to halfback while Will Hopoate slots into the backline after Origin, moving Reece Robinson to fullback and Ryan Morgan to the wing. The Panthers look likely to climb further into the top eight with a win over the last-placed Eels.
Gold Coast Titans v South Sydney Rabbitohs
The Titans host a relatively vulnerable Rabbitohs squad. Lacking Adam Reynolds and Glenn Stewart, and with Greg Inglis in doubt after illness, the Bunnies are clearly under-strength. Yet with Luke Keary and John Sutton in the halves and Isaac Luke returning to the middle, the Rabbits still have a strong squad.
The Titans, having lost three close games at home, are looking for that extra step to get them over the line. Nate Myles returns from a strong Origin campaign to lead the squad. Isaac Luke’s speed around the ruck should help the Bunnies run down the Titans.
Canberra Raiders v Brisbane Broncos
The Broncos may struggle with six returning Origin stars: Darius Boyd, Justin Hodges, Sam Thaiday, Josh Maguire, Matt Gillett and Corey Parker. This, after a Monday night win against Newcastle means the Broncos will need to dig deep.
After a draining loss against the Bulldogs last week the Raiders will be grateful to meet a wounded Broncos side. The Canberra squad will be boosted by the return of Sam Williams to halfback after injury.
North Queensland Cowboys v Manly Sea Eagles
The in-form Cowboys, welcoming back Origin players Johnathan Thurston, James Tamou and Michael Morgan, will be looking for a home win against Manly. The Eagles, 15th on the ladder, will be without Daly Cherry-Evans, pushing Kieran Foran into halfback to partner Tom Symonds at five-eighth. With an eight-match winning streak under their belts, the Cowboys will feel optimistic of their chance against defeating the struggling Sea Eagles.
New Zealand Warriors v Newcastle Knights
The Knights will be looking to break a seven-match losing streak against the rejuvenated Warriors outfit. The return of Sam Tomkins and Manu Vatuvei from injury on top of a bye weekend set the Warriors up for another win. Newcastle lack confidence and will find the powerful Warriors a tough assignment.
St George Illawarra Dragons v Cronulla Sharks
The squads face off in another Sydney derby after last week’s bye. Josh Dugan and Trent Merrin return from Origin duties to help the Dragons hold their top-four spot. The Sharks will be boosted by the return of Andrew Fifita from Origin and possible late inclusion of skipper Paul Gallen from injury. Cronulla will find it tough against the Dragon’s solid defence.
Sydney Roosters v Melbourne Storm
With nine returning Origin players between them, this pairing closes the round in style. The Origin players will have had five day to recover from Wednesday’s game so fatigue should not be a factor come Monday night. The Roosters have named an unchanged squad from their round ten performance, while the Storm have included Christian Welch, Ben Hampton and Hymel Hunt to an extended bench. – Jackson Barron
From from Napparazzi’s Flickr photostream.