The Newsroom previews round 18 of the National Rugby League.
Parramatta Eels v Sydney Roosters
The Eels and the Roosters will battle it out on Friday night at Pirtek Stadium. The Eels will welcome back Jeff Robson in the halves after a five year absence from the team. Robson featured in the 2009 Grand Final for the Eels and has had stints for the Cronulla Sharks and the New Zealand Warriors. Another reinforcement that will lineup in the front row is their leader Tim Mannah. Mannah has been out with a shoulder injury for two months. Michael Jennings will be missing for the Eels due to his final Origin duty but the Eels welcome back Brad Takairangi to fill his spot. Takairangi has been out with a hamstring strain for a month. Eels enforcer Danny Wicks will also play his 100th first grade game. For the Roosters, Blake Ferguson and Aidan Guerra will be missing for the Roosters with Origin duty. Left winger Joseph Manu will start with Isaac Liu filling in for Guerra while Ryan Matterson has been added to a five-man bench. Players to watch are Mannah and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves. Both players are highly experienced in their positions and they consistently provide some brutal defence and hit-ups.
Penrith Panthers v Cronulla Sharks
A depleted Cronulla Sharks will take on the Penrith Panthers at Pepper Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Cronulla are missing a lot of reinforcements due to Origin. Absentees are: Jack Bird, James Maloney, Paul Gallen, Wade Graham and Andrew Fifita. Cronulla will welcome back a star in Valentine Holmes. Holmes has been out with a hamstring complaint sustained a couple of weeks ago. Penrith have a massive chance to break the Shark’s 12-game winning streak and upset the ladder leaders. Penrith are only missing Josh Mansour and Matt Moylan due to Origin duty so Will Smith and Suaia Matagi will come into the team. With all of his stars missing Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan has been forced to pick Fa’amanu Brown, former Raider Matt McIlwrick and former Sea Eagles prop Jesse Sene-Lefao to make their first NRL appearances for the Sharks. Former Ipswich Jets forward Kurt Capewell has also been named to make his NRL debut with the likes of Jayson Bukuya, Chris Heighington and Sam Tagataese all set to start. Players to watch is fill-in Sharks captain Michael Ennis and Peter Wallace. Ennis and Wallace have played over 200 first grade games and can change the momentum by setting the pace of the match and controlling the ruck. – Jesse Mullens
Canterbury Bulldogs v Wests Tigers, ANZ Stadium, Saturday 7pm.
Canberra Raiders v North Queensland Cowboys, GIO Stadium, Monday night, 7pm.
Photo of Tim Mannah scoring a try against the Roosters in 2015 from the Eels Facebook page.