NRL teams Round 8: SuperCoach NRL analysis, Jack Bird named, Dane Gagai injury

Dragons star Jack Bird is on target to play against Wests Tigers, despite walking off the SCG with his arm in a sling on Anzac Day. Check all the latest team news for Round 8.

Jack Bird is on target to make a miraculous appearance for St George Illawarra against the Wests Tigers on Sunday after initial scans on his injured arm suggested he had avoided a break.

Bird was named in the Dragons side on Tuesday, the club having been given latitude with the naming of their squad because they were involved in the Anzac Day game against the Sydney Roosters only 24 hours earlier.

Bird finished that game with his arm in a sling but there are genuine hopes that he will avoid a long stint on the sidelines. Dragons officials and Bird are confident he has avoided a break, but they still need to rule out the possibility that he has suffered a small fracture.

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Jack Bird could play for the Dragons against Wests Tigers on Sunday. Picture: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images
Jack Bird could play for the Dragons against Wests Tigers on Sunday. Picture: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Bird has been one of the Dragons’ best performers this season and his presence would be significant on Sunday given the Tigers are one of the sides believed to be circling the versatile player, who is off contract at the end of the season.

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Bird has been locked in talks with St George Illawarra over a two-year extension but the Tigers have shown interest and could make a play for the 27-year-old.

The Dragons paid a significant price for their Anzac win over the Roosters, losing Jaydn Su’A for an extended period. The amount of time Su’A spends on the sidelines will hinge on whether he is required to undergo surgery.

Bulldog’s big career call

Billy Tsikrikas may have to apply for leave from his full-time job as a schoolteacher after being named on an extended bench to play for the Bulldogs on Saturday night.

Returning to Endeavour High School as a hero after making the NRL debut that he had given up on to become a full-time teacher, Tsikrikas said he would have to apply for time off to attend Bulldogs training this week.

“I don’t know how it will work out this week,” Tsikrikas said.

“I am back at school now so yeah I will need some time if I am needed again. I am hoping the school will be ­lenient given the circumstances.”

Tsikrikas said he had all but given up on his NRL dream until he received a shock call from the Bulldogs last week amid a Covid crisis.

Billy Tsikrikas may have to take leave from his job as a teacher Endeavour High School afteer being named on an extended bench for Bulldods this weekend. Picture: Julian Andrews
Billy Tsikrikas may have to take leave from his job as a teacher Endeavour High School afteer being named on an extended bench for Bulldods this weekend. Picture: Julian Andrews

“Last year, I taught roughly three days a week and I was training at Penrith,” Tsikrikas said.

“But this year I thought to myself, I’m turning 27 and I wanted to put teaching first. I picked up full-time work for the first time and, in my head, I had put footy second.

“I really did not think that footy was going to work out for me.”

But all that changed with a 7am phone call last ­Wednesday morning.

“The call came out of nowhere,” Tsikrikas said. “I picked up the phone and they asked me to come in and train. I actually said no at first because I was working in my other job in disability support. I told them I was working and that I couldn’t take the day off to train.”

And that’s when the club told him he was in line to make his NRL debut.

“I hung up the phone and got there as quickly as I could,” Tsikrikas.

“I still really thought it was a long shot. I didn’t think I would spend my school holidays in Brisbane making my debut against the Broncos.”

Fast forward seven days and Tsikrikas may have to put his teaching career on hold after looking every inch the NRL prop in his debut against the Broncos.

“This is certainly making me rethink my career,” Tsikrikas said.

“Maybe I will be able to get a contract next year, whether it is here or overseas. I was thinking that I would just be teaching and now all that has changed.”

Making the most of his call-up, Tsikrikas may be called on again this week after being named on an extended Bulldogs bench.

The 106kg giant said he was waiting to hear from Bulldogs coach Trent Barrett as to whether he would be required at training on Thursday.

“I don’t think I was amazing,” Tsikrikas said. “I had a job to do and I think I did that well. But I certainly want to improve that if I am given a shot and I will be treating that as seriously as possible.”

The latest in a long line of Endeavour graduates who have gone on to play in the NRL, Tsikrikas is the first teacher from the famous school to make the grade.

“We certainly want to be able to support Billy in every way we can,” said Endeavour principal James Kozlowski.

“Even if he does get a ­contract and plays full-time we would love to think he can come back to the school once his career in rugby league has finished.”

Huge blow for Knights’ best

Newcastle’s injury woes have continued with representative centre Dane Gagai is expected to miss at least a month with a fractured cheekbone while teammate Hymel Hunt is facing a longer stint after both suffered similar injuries on the weekend.

Gagai managed to play through the 80 minutes in Newcastle’s 39-2 loss but scans have since returned a facial fracture.

Hunt suffered his injury while playing NSW Cup and is considered more serious with a six-week return to play time frame.

Sharks captain Wade Graham will play his first game of the season, cleared to return from an ankle injury against the Broncos on Thursday night.

Graham suffered the injury during the club’s pre-season trials, but trained without incident on Tuesday. It’s expected Graham will be selected in Craig Fitzgibbon’s 21-man squad for the in-form Sharks trip to Brisbane.

Dane Gagai will be out of action for about a month. Picture: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Dane Gagai will be out of action for about a month. Picture: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Will Kennedy (shoulder) has also recovered after leaving the field last weekend and will play against the Broncos.

And as if being humiliated by the Storm wasn’t enough.

The Warriors have been struck by another hurdle in their mission to overcome the club’s biggest loss in their history - with their flight out of Victoria delayed by almost five-hours.

The Warriors were due to leave Tullamarine Airport around 9am on Tuesday, but were still waiting to board their delayed flight at 1pm.

The delay will heavily impact the Warriors recovery.

Centre Euan Aitken has a calf injury but the Warriors aren’t sure of the severity due to their inability to have the issue scanned upon their return to Redcliffe.

Warriors coach Nathan Brown is desperate for his side to rebound from the embarrassing 70-10 loss to Melbourne.

Ben Murdoch Masila and Jack Murchie are expected to be named to face the Raiders this weekend. Josh Curran (knee) and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak (Concussion) are out.

ROUND 8 TEAMS

BRONCOS v SHARKS

Thursday, 7.50pm, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

Broncos

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

Bench: 14. Cory Paix, 15. Rhys Kennedy, 16. Thomas Flegler, 17. Keenan Palasia

Reserves: 18. Brenko Lee, 19. Jordan Pereira, 20. TC Robati, 21. Ezra Mam, 23. Ethan Quai-Ward, 23. Logan Bayliss, 24. Ryan James

Team news: No changes to the winning 17. Billy Walters named to start at hooker and Cory Paix on the bench.

Sharks

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, 10. Aiden Tolman, 11. Briton Nikora, 12. Teig Wilton, 13. Dale Finucane

Bench: 14. Jack Williams, 15. Cameron McInnes, 16. Royce Hunt, 17. Andrew Fifita

Reserves: 18. Braydon Trindall, 19. Wade Graham, 20. Matt Ikuvalu, 21. Mawene Hiroti, 22. Lachlan Miller, 23. Luke Metcalf, 24. Franklin Pele

Team news: Dale Finucane (concussion) returns which sees Cameron McInnes move to the bench and Braydon Trindall to the reserves. Wade Graham is in the reserves too and expected to be a late call up to the 17.

Wade Graham is expected to secure a spot in the Sharks’ 17 for the clash with the Broncos. Picture: Sam Ruttyn
Wade Graham is expected to secure a spot in the Sharks’ 17 for the clash with the Broncos. Picture: Sam Ruttyn

TITANS v PANTHERS

Friday, 6pm, Cbus Super Stadium, Gold Coast

Titans

1. AJ Brimson, 2. Phillip Sami, 3. Brian Kelly, 4. Patrick Herbert, 5. Greg Marzhew, 6. Will Smith, 7. Toby Sexton, 8. Moeaki Fotuaika, 9. Erin Clark, 10. Isaac Liu, 11. David Fifita, 12. Beau Fermor, 13. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui

Bench: 14. Tanah Boyd, 15. Sam Lisone, 16. Herman Ese’ese, 17. Kevin Proctor

Reserves: 18. Jamayne Isaako, 19. Jarrod Wallace, 20. Sam McIntyre, 21. Esan Marsters, 22. Paul Turner, 23. Corey Thompson, 24. Jayden Campbell

Team news: Titans coach Justin Holbrook has responded to the Gold Coast’s sloppy form by switching five-eighth AJ Brimson to his preferred position of fullback for Friday night’s daunting clash with the unbeaten Panthers. Holbrook has axed fullback Jamayne Isaako and prop Jarrod Wallace for the game at Cbus Super Stadium as the Titans search for a much-needed victory. Utility Will Smith will start at five-eighth alongside halfback Toby Sexton, with Holbrook once again overlooking Jayden Campbell (named in the reserves) for fullback. David Fifita returns to the second row after a failed experiment in the centres last week, with Patrick Herbert moving into the centres and Phillip Sami returning to the wing. In other changes, Jaimin Jolliffe (calf) is out, while Herman Ese-ese and Tanah Boyd come onto the interchange bench.

Panthers

1. Dylan Edwards, 2. Charlie Staines, 3. Izack Tago, 4. Stephen Crichton, 5. Taylan May, 6. Jarome Luai, 7. Nathan Cleary, 8. Matthew Eisenhuth, 9. Api Koroisau, 10. James Fisher-Harris, 11. Viliame Kikau, 12. Liam Martin, 13. Isaah Yeo

Bench: 14. Soni Luke, 15. Scott Sorensen, 16. Spencer Leniu, 17. Jaeman Salmon

Reserves: 18. Robert Jennings, 19. Chris Smith, 20. J’Maine Hopgood, 21. Lindsay Smith, 22. Mitch Kenny, 23. Christian Chrichton, 24. Sean O’Sullivan

Team news: No changes - Soni Luke has held his spot on the interchange after a nice cameo debut last week.

RABBITOHS v SEA EAGLES

Friday, 7.55pm, Central Coast Stadium, Gosford

Rabbitohs

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

Bench: 14. Siliva Havili, 15. Hame Sele, 16. Davvy Moale, 17. Liam Knight

Reserves: 18. Trent Peoples, 19. Jaxson Paulo, 20. Richard Kennar, 21. Dean Hawkins, 22. Peter Mamouzelos, 23. Josiah Karapani, 24. Shaquai Mitchell

Team news: Two changes from last week. Taane Milne (suspended) is replaced by Isaiah Tass and Jacob Host (shoulder) by Siliva Havili.

Sea Eagles

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, 10. Martin Taupau, 11. Karl Lawton, 12. Ethan Bullemor, 13. Jake Trbojevic

Bench: 14. Dylan Walker, 15. Ben Trbojevic, 16. Kurt De Luis, 17. Toafofoa Sipley

Reserves: 18. Morgan Harper, 19. Jorge Taufua, 20. James Roumanos, 21. Viliami Fifita, 22. Josh Schuster, 23. Kaeo Weekes, 24. Jacob Sykes

Team news: Plenty of changes for the Sea Eagles. In the backline, Morgan harper has paid the price for Sifa Talakai mauling him last week opening the door for Tolu Koula to start. In the forwards Haumole Olakau’atu (suspension), Taniela Paseka (knee) and Andrew Davey (shoulder) are all out. Sean Keppie and Marty Taupau return at prop, Ethan Bullemor comes in to start at second row and Ben Trbojevic and Kurt de Luis join the bench.

Tolutau Koula will start in the centres for Manly against South Sydney. Picture: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images
Tolutau Koula will start in the centres for Manly against South Sydney. Picture: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

WARRIORS v RAIDERS

Saturday, 3pm, Moreton Daily Stadium, Redcliffe

Warriors

1. Reece Walsh, 2. Rocco Berry, 3. Jesse Arthars, 4. Adam Pompey, 5. Viliami Vailea, 6. Chanel Harris-Tavita, 7. Shaun Johnson, 8. Addin Fonua-Blake, 9. Wayde Egan, 10. Matt Lodge, 11. Euan Aitken, 12. Bayley Sironen, 13. Jazz Tevaga

Bench: 14. Taniela Otukolo, 15. Bunty Afoa, 16. Eliesa Katoa, 17. Jack Murchie

Reserves: 18. Edward Kosi, 20. Ben Murdoch-Masila, 21. Daejarn Asi, 22. Pride Petterson-Robati, 23. Junior Ratuva, 24. Valingi Kepu, 25. Jackson Frei

Team news: Josh Curran (knee) is out which sees Bayley Sironen start on an edge. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak (concussion), Aaron Pene (suspension) and Edward Kosi are also out which sees Viliami Vailea return on a wing and Rocco Berry the other fresh winger. Jack Murchie and Eliesa Katoa come on to the bench.

Raiders

1. Jordan Rapana, 2. Nick Cotric, 3. Matt Timoko, 4. Semi Valemei, 5. Xavier Savage, 6. Jack Wighton, 7. Brad Schneider, 8. Josh Papalii, 9. Tom Starling, 10. Joseph Tapine, 11. Hudson Young, 12. Elliott Whitehead, 13. Ryan Sutton

Bench: 14. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, 15. Corey Harawira-Naera, 16. Adam Elliott, 17. Corey Horsburgh

Reserves: 18. Harry Rushton, 19. Matt Frawley, 20. Jarrod Croker 21. Emre Guler, 22. Trey Mooney, 23. James Schiller, 24. Peter Hola

Team news: Elliott Whitehead (face) returns at the expense of youngster Harry Rushton as Ricky Stuart opts to stick with the team that was thrashed by the Panthers last week.

BULLDOGS v ROOSTERS

Saturday, 5.30pm, Accor Stadium, Sydney

Bulldogs

1. Matt Dufty, 2. Brent Naden, 3. Aaron Schoupp, 4. Jake Averillo, 5. Josh Addo-Carr, 6. Matt Burton, 7. Kyle Flanagan, 8. Luke Thompson, 9. Jeremy Marshall-King, 10. Paul Vaughan, 11. Corey Waddell, 12. Tevita Pangai Jr, 13. Josh Jackson

Bench: 14. Bailey Biondi-Odo, 15. Joe Stimson, 16. Max King, 17. Ava Seumanufagai

Reserves: 19. Josh Cook, 20. Jackson Topine, 21. Jayden Okunbor, 22. Reece Hoffman, 23. Billy Tsikrikas, 24. Paul Alamoti, 25. Tui Katoa

Team news: Last week’s Covid subs Jacob Kiraz, Jayden Okunbor and Billy Tsikrikas are out replaced by Jake Averillo and Brent Naden in the backs and Ava Seumanufagai on the bench.

Roosters

1. James Tedesco, 2. Kevin Naiqama, 3. Paul Momirovski, 4. Joey Manu, 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

Bench: 14. Drew Hutchison, 15. Fletcher Baker, 16. Nat Butcher, 17. Siosiua Taukeiaho

Reserves: 18. Lachlan Lam, 19. Daniel Suluka-Fifita, 20. Ben Marschke, 21. Naufahu Whyte, 22. Adam Keighran, 23. Renouf Atoni, 24. Tom Carr

Team news: Daniel Tupou (suspended) will miss a week which opens the door for Kevin Naiqama to come on to the wing. Siosiua Taukeiaho and Nat Butcher return to the bench with Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Victor Radley named to start as Trent Robinson continues to tinker with his side denying it much needed stability.

Kevin Naiqama will replace Daniel Tupou on the wing for the Roosters. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images
Kevin Naiqama will replace Daniel Tupou on the wing for the Roosters. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

EELS v COWBOYS

Saturday, 7.05pm, TIO Stadium, Darwin

Eels

1. Clint Gutherson, 2. Hayze Perham, 3. Will Penisini, 4. Dylan Brown, 5. Bailey Simonsson, 6. Jake Arthur, 7. Mitchell Moses, 8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard, 9. Reed Mahoney, 10. Junior Paulo, 11. Shaun Lane, 12. Isaiah Papali’I, 13. Nathan Brown

Bench: 14. Makahesi Makatoa, 15. Ryan Matterson, 16. Oregon Kaufusi, 17. Bryce Cartwright

Reserves: 18. Wiremu Greig, 19. Mitch Rein, 20. Tom Opacic, 21. Ky Rodwell, 22. Solomone Naiduki, 23. Elie El-Zakhem, 24. Luca Moretti

Team news: No change to the 17 from last week.

Cowboys

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, 10. Coen Hess, 11. Heilum Luki, 12. Jeremiah Nanai, 13. Jason Taumalolo

Bench: 14. Jake Granville, 15. Tom Gilbert, 16. Reuben Cotter, 17. Griffin Neame

Reserves: 18. Jamayne Taunoa-Brown, 19. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, 20. Connelly Lemuelu, 21. Ben Condon, 22. Emry Pere, 23. Brendan Elliot, 24. Ben Hampton

Team news: No changes here either though coach Todd Payten will almost certainly make late changes as he has every other round.

KNIGHTS v STORM

Sunday, 2pm, McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle

Knights

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, 13. Kurt Mann

Bench: 14. Phoenix Crossland, 15. Jacob Saifiti, 16. Leo Thompson 17. Sauaso Sue

Reserves: 18. Tex Hoy, 19. Jack Johns, 20. Brayden Musgrove, 21. Pasami Saulo, 22. Dylan Lucas, 23. Jaron Purcell, 24. Krystian Mapapalangi

Team news: Dane Gagai (cheek) is out, replaced by Simi Sasagi. Brodie Jones is named despite injuring his arm last week - watch this space.

Storm

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

Bench: 14. Brandon Smith, 15. Tyran Wishart, 16. Trent Loiero, 17. Tepai Moeroa

Reserves: 18. Chris Lewis, 19. Marion Seve, 20. Alec MacDonald, 21. Jordan Grant, 22. Jack Howarth, 23. Bronson Garlick, 24. Cooper Johns

Team news: Just a minor change with Chris Lewis and Tyran Wishart changing places on the bench/reserves.

Starford To’a will play fullback for Wests Tigers against the Dragons. Picture: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
Starford To’a will play fullback for Wests Tigers against the Dragons. Picture: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

DRAGONS v TIGERS

Sunday, 4.05pm, WIN Stadium, Wollongong

Dragons

1. Moses Mbye, 2. Mathew Feagai, 3. Moses Suli, 4. Zac Lomax, 5. Mikaele Ravalawa, 6. Jack Bird, 7. Ben Hunt, 8. Francis Molo, 9. Andrew McCullough, 10. George Burgess, 11. Tariq Sims, 12. Josh McGuire, 13. Jack de Belin

Bench: 14. Talatau Amone, 15. Blake Lawrie, 16. Aaron Woods, 17. Tyrell Fuimaono

Reserves: 18. Tautau Moga, 19. Jackson Ford, 20. Josh Kerr, 21. Tyrell Sloan, 22. Cody Ramsey, 23. Jack Gosiewski, 24. Jayden Sullivan

Team news: What’s happening here? Either the word on Jack Bird (forearm fracture) was completely wrong, or coach Griffin has had a brain fade when naming his side. Regardless, Jaydn Su’A is out with Josh McGuire and Tariq Sims named to start in the second row.

Tigers

1. Starford To’a, 2. David Nofoaluma, 3. Luke Garner, 4. Oliver Gildart, 5. Ken Maumalo, 6. Luke Brooks, 7. Jackson Hastings, 8. James Tamou, 9. Jacob Liddle, 10. Zane Musgrove, 11. Kelma Tuilagi, 12. Luciano Leilua, 13. Joe Ofahengaue

Bench: 14. Jock Madden, 15. Alex Twal, 16. Thomas Mikaele, 17. Alex Seyfarth

Reserves: 18. Jake Simpkin, 19. Tyrone Peachey, 20. Junior Tupou, 21. Tukimihia Simpkins. 22. Austin Dias, 23. Fonua Pole, 24. Junior Tupou

Team news: Daine Laurie (knee) is out opening the door for Star To’a to start at fullback and Oliver Gildart to return to centre. Kelma Tuilagi is back pushing Alex Seyfarth to the bench.

Originally published as NRL teams Round 8: SuperCoach NRL analysis, Jack Bird named, Dane Gagai injury

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