NRL 2022 Round 16 Early mail: Predicted team changes, injuries

A Melbourne Storm star is set to make his long awaited return, while a host of Origin stars could be rested. See all Round 16 Early Mail.

CONCUSSION WOES FOR BULLDOGS, TIGERS

The Bulldogs will still be without Luke Thompson. Thompson has not played since round 12 as he continues to have concussion symptoms.

The Tigers are expecting Stefano Utoikamanu to make his return after being given extra time to recover from an ankle injury. Teammate Alex Twal will meet with a specialist next week to determine when he will be cleared to play again. It has been reported he could miss the rest of the season because of repeated concussions.

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Alex Twal will need to be cleared by a specialist to make his return from concussion. Picture: Getty Images.
Alex Twal will need to be cleared by a specialist to make his return from concussion. Picture: Getty Images.

SEA EAGLES v STORM

Thursday June 30, 7.50pm, Brookvale Oval, Sydney

Sea Eagles: Pending representative round dramas, there’s no changes expected at Manly following a heartbreaking loss to North Queensland. Taniela Paseka may be elevated back into the 17 as he continues his return from injury. On the four day back up from Origin, Daly Cherry-Evans and Jake Trbojevic are chances to be spelled pending on how they get through Origin II.

Storm: Ryan Papenhuyzen will return from injury/Covid lay-off. Whether he starts at fullback or is eased back off the bench remains to be seen. If starting at fullback, Nick Meaney would shift to the wing, with either Dean Ieremia or Grant Anderson dropping out of the team. Cameron Munster, Harry Grant and Felise Kaufusi will all be closely monitored on the quick back up from Origin.

Ryan Papenhuyzen is set to make his return from knee and hamstring injuries that have sidelined him since Round 9. Picture: Getty Images.
Ryan Papenhuyzen is set to make his return from knee and hamstring injuries that have sidelined him since Round 9. Picture: Getty Images.

KNIGHTS v TITANS

Friday July 1, 6pm, McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle

Knights: Bradman Best is due back from an elbow injury at centre, with Edrick Lee likely dropping out and Enari Tuala shifting to the wing. Tuala may be a straight replacement though should Adam O’Brien opt that way. Daniel Saifiti is due back from a knee injury which would complete a near full-strength forward pack for the Knights.

Titans: David Fifita and Kevin Proctor are both due back from injury and are likely to return off the bench. Corey Thompson should also be available following a knee injury, but may not be selected as Justin Holbrook continues to agonise over his strongest backline make-up. Paul Turner failed to finish Round 15 with a calf injury and will be monitored over the rep round.

PANTHERS v ROOSTERS

Friday July 1, 7.55pm, BlueBet Stadium, Penrith

Panthers: In relation to injury/suspension, Penrith aren’t expecting any changes to their 17 at this stage. However, with almost their entire 17 active during the rep round, including Origin players on the five day turnaround, coach Ivan Cleary may opt to rest some of his stars pending on how they pull up from the weekend.

Roosters: Luke Keary is expected to return in the halves in place of Drew Hutchinson, but will have to pass concussion protocols to take his place. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves is pushing to return from a hamstring injury that has seen him miss an extended period. Victor Radley will return at lock, pushing Nat Butcher to the bench. Both Nat and Egan Butcher suffered head knocks in Round 15 and will need to pass concussion protocols to take their place against the Panthers.

Most of the Panthers’ best starting 17 are playing during rep round and some could be rested. Picture: Getty Images.
Most of the Panthers’ best starting 17 are playing during rep round and some could be rested. Picture: Getty Images.

BULLDOGS v SHARKS

Saturday July 2, 3pm, CommBank Stadium, Parramatta

Bulldogs: English star Luke Thompson has suffered from lingering concussion symptoms and must be cleared to take his place against Cronulla. Last week’s try-scoring debutant Kurtis Morrin suffered a dislocated shoulder in the win over the Tigers and will spend some time on the sidelines.

Sharks: No major changes expected at Cronulla, with Jack Williams pushing to return from a shoulder injury.

COWBOYS v BRONCOS

Saturday July 2, 5.30pm, QCB Stadium, Townsville

Cowboys: Reuben Cotter was a late scratching from the win over Manly with a hamstring injury that’ll see him miss around a month of footy. Tom Gilbert is due back from an eye injury and is expected to start on the edge, pushing Coen Hess to the bench. Kyle Feldt is expected to return from a knee injury in either Round 16 or 18 post bye, which will leave coach Todd Payten with a big decision on who he replaces in the backline. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow is likely to drop to the bench in a utility role. With Cotter unavailable as hooking cover for Robson, it may see Jake Granville keep his spot for the time being.

Broncos: Adam Reynolds is due back from a rib issue, with Tyrone Roberts to drop out of the halves. Tesi Niu is closing in on a return from a hamstring issue and is expected to be eased back through QLD Cup where he’ll fight to regain a spot in a thriving Broncos backline.

Kyle Feldt is nearing a return from a knee injury, but could be given until Round 18 to recover. Picture: Getty Images.
Kyle Feldt is nearing a return from a knee injury, but could be given until Round 18 to recover. Picture: Getty Images.

RABBITOHS v EELS

Saturday July 2, 7.35pm, Accor Stadium, Sydney

Rabbitohs: Latrell Mitchell will start at fullback in his first game since Round 5.

Hooked early on in the loss to the Dragons, Lachlan Ilias is expected to start in the halves according to coach Jason Demetriou. Should he stick to his word, this will likely see Blake Taaffe dropped, and Kodi Nikorima play as the bench utility.

Eels: No major changes expected at the Eels provided their rep contingent get through the weekend unscathed.

Latrell Mitchell will make his long awaited NRL return, playing his first game in over 10 weeks. Picture: Jonathan Ng
Latrell Mitchell will make his long awaited NRL return, playing his first game in over 10 weeks. Picture: Jonathan Ng

WARRIORS v TIGERS

Sunday July 3, 2pm, Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland

Warriors: The Warriors return to Mt Smart for their first game since Covid struck.

Euan Aitken is due back from a concussion on the edge with Josh Curran, which will likely see Jack Murchie drop to the bench and Tohu Harris play lock.

Tigers: Alex Twal (concussion) and Starford Toa (ankle) are both in doubt for the clash, although Toa is likely to take his place at centre. Twal may be out for an extended period, with Stefano Utoikamanu to replace him on return from a foot injury. Luke Brooks has reportedly been dropped by interim coach Brett Kimmorley, with Adam Doueihi to start in the halves alongside Jackson Hastings.

DRAGONS v RAIDERS

Sunday July 3, 4.05pm, WIN Stadium, Wollongong

Dragons: No major changes expected at the Dragons following their strong win over South Sydney.

Raiders: Jack Wighton will return after missing last round due to Covid protocols.

He’ll partner Jamal Fogarty in the halves, with Matt Frawley dropping out of the team.

Originally published as NRL 2022 Round 16 Early mail: Predicted team changes, injuries