NRL Round 15 Early Mail: Reynolds out, Haas in doubt, Latrell Mitchell to miss

Brisbane’s backline has copped a double injury blow while there’s hope two key forwards will play despite missing training. UPDATED EARLY MAIL

The Broncos have suffered another body blow with injured skipper Adam Reynolds ruled out of Friday night’s blockbuster against the Storm at AAMI Park.

News Corp can reveal Reynolds has succumbed to a rib injury and will join in-form centre Herbie Farnworth (bicep) on the sidelines for Brisbane’s daunting road trip to face Melbourne in a top-four showdown.

Meanwhile, Origin stars Payne Haas (shoulder) and Pat Carrigan did not train on Tuesday, with the NSW enforcer to be given until game day to prove his fitness and the latter expected to take his place in Brisbane’s starting side.

But the one certainty is Reynolds is on ice for another week, continuing a frustrating run of injury and illness for the veteran playmaker.

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Adam Reynolds trained away from the main group on Tuesday morning.
Adam Reynolds trained away from the main group on Tuesday morning.

Reynolds injured his ribs in last Saturday night’s gutsy 24-18 defeat of the Raiders and Broncos medicos later said the champion halfback was preparing to take on the Storm.

But it is understood the 31-year-old is still in major pain and coach Kevin Walters will take no risks with his champion skipper.

Reynolds did not train with the main squad on Tuesday with the captain and Tyson Gamble (leg) doing light running drills under the watchful eye of a Broncos physio.

In the absence of Reynolds, Ezra Mam is expected to be joined in the halves by former Newcastle and Titans playmaker Tyrone Roberts, who ran Brisbane’s offence at training.

Broncos winger Corey Oates said he expects Brisbane’s medical staff to take a conservation approach with Reynolds.

“Reyno is unlucky the poor fella,” Oates said.

“If he has the week off, he can heal and be a lot better for it.

“It (the rib injury) is one thing he can play with but would you rather him re-injure it and be off for eight weeks or rest up and be back sooner.”

Asked if Haas will play, Oates said: “Payno is a tough bugger, he can play through anything, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he does.

“It’s a shame to lose Herbie, we had a good combination on that left side, but he just has to get through his recovery and hopefully we see him back earlier.”

(L-R) Adam Reynolds and Payne Haas failed to finish the the round 14 NRL match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Canberra Raiders. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images
(L-R) Adam Reynolds and Payne Haas failed to finish the the round 14 NRL match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Canberra Raiders. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

Strike centre Kotoni Staggs is expected to play despite a shoulder injury he suffered in Origin I, while coach Walters is set to place faith in former Queensland centre Brenko Lee to replace Farnworth on Brisbane’s left edge.

In a further boost for Brisbane, Oates (hand) has also been given the green light in his final opportunity to stake his claim for a Queensland Origin berth following injury to his former Broncos teammate Xavier Coates.

“The hand is fine, I got a bump but I didn’t hurt anything which is good,” Oates said.

“I just have to do my job and play consistently. That’s been my goal my whole career, I want to be a consistent player and I am happy to be playing good footy and the footy I know I can play.

“I am competing and running hard and doing my job. That’s all I can do. I will wait and see (if he makes the Origin team).”

Shaun Johnson will switch positions (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)
Shaun Johnson will switch positions (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

JOHNSON MAKES WAY FOR DEBUTANT

Warriors star Shaun Johnson has been shifted from his halfback position to make way for rookie debutant Ronald Volkman.

Adding another chapter to Johnson’s already difficult season, the Warriors legend has been moved to five-eighth for the club’s clash with heavyweights Penrith on Saturday at Redcliffe.

Interim Warriors coach Stacey Jones has shifted Johnson to five-eighth in order to hand Volkman, 19, his NRL debut at halfback.

The Warriors won the race for Volkman’s signature earlier this year after a slew of clubs were eager to sign him.

He signed from the Roosters to the Warriors on a three-year deal in May.

Volkman, who’s of Samoan heritage, had an outstanding schoolboy rugby union career at noted nursery Waverley College in Sydney’s eastern suburbs before being signed by the Roosters.

He linked with the Warriors after fearing his path to the NRL would be blocked by the Roosters current halves Luke Keary, Sam Walker, Drew Hutchinson and Lachlan Lam.

Regular Warriors five-eighth Chanel Harris-Tavita will make way for Johnson’s positional switch and start the match from the bench.

Dale Finucane is due back for the Sharks (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)
Dale Finucane is due back for the Sharks (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

STAR SHARK SET FOR RETURN

The Sharks are set to receive a huge boost with marquee forward Dale Finucane ready to return against the Titans on Saturday.

Sidelined since round 10, Finucane will be named for Cronulla’s ‘home’ game at Coffs Harbour against the last-placed Gold Coast.

The outstanding forward suffered a head knock and an MCL knee injury in the same tackle while carrying the footy against the Raiders five weeks ago.

He has recovered well and has travelled to Coffs Harbour with the Sharks squad.

PAP SET FOR COMEBACK

Storm fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen is on the verge of returning from injury.

Papenhuyzen will be named in Melbourne’s 22-man squad for Friday night’s clash against the in-form Broncos at AAMI Park.

Papenhuyzen hasn’t played since suffering knee and hamstring injuries in Melbourne’s round 9 win against the Dragons.

He had scored 12 tries in nine games and was leading the Dally M Medal race at the time of his injury.

The Storm will not declare Papenhuyzen a certain starter against the Broncos, but he is on track to make his return in what will be his final chance to press for NSW Origin selection for game two in Perth next Sunday.

Isaah Yeo jas recovered from the head knock he coppe din Origin I.
Isaah Yeo jas recovered from the head knock he coppe din Origin I.

YEO GOOD TO GO FOR PANTHERS

The Panthers are set to welcome back their most influential forward against the Warriors on Saturday.

NSW State of Origin forward Isaah Yeo missed last weekend’s big win over the Knights following a head knock suffered while playing for the Blues in Origin I.

Yeo was able to finish the match for NSW, but the Panthers made the decision to deliberately rest the star forward from the 42-6 win over Newcastle.

The outstanding lock-forward will be named in the Penrith line-up on Tuesday in readiness for the club’s away clash with the Warriors at Redcliffe.

LOMAX SURVIVES SHOCKER

Zac Lomax has retained his spot in the Dragons’ first grade squad despite a below-par performance last weekend.

The St George-Illawarra centre’s errors with the ball compounded his side’s heavy loss to the Cowboys last weekend, including one wayward flick pass that led to Cowboys winger Murray Taulaugi scoring a try.

However, Lomax will be named in the centres to face the Rabbitohs on Thursday night.

TITANS TO TAKE A PUNT ON FIFITA?

Under-pressure Gold Coast coach Justin Holbrook is considering handing an NRL debut to rugby convert Jojo Fifita in a desperate bid to spark the battling Titans.

Canterbury’s shock 34-4 win against Parramatta on Monday sent the Titans plummeting to last spot on the NRL ladder.

Jojo Fifita was a schoolboy rugby star. Picture: Jason O'Brien
Jojo Fifita was a schoolboy rugby star. Picture: Jason O'Brien

The Titans have lost nine of their past 10 games and their season is just about over ahead of Saturday’s clash with the Sharks in Coffs Harbour.

Holbrook is ready to roll the dice to save the Gold Coast’s season and could hand former schoolboys rugby sensation Fifita his NRL debut against Cronulla.

He is also toying with the idea of giving former Melbourne Storm hooker Aaron Booth his Titans debut.

The Titans must beat the Sharks to have any hope of making a comeback in 2022.

MITCHELL RETURN ON HOLD

South Sydney superstar Latrell Mitchell is expected to be ruled out of Thursday night’s game against St George Illawarra — ending his chances of selection for State of Origin II.

The Daily Telegraph understands Mitchell will be told at Souths training on Monday morning that the club is ready to rest him for the Dragons game, allowing him to return fit and ready for the club’s crucial round 16 clash with Parramatta.

Complicating matters in Mitchell’s return is that he will only leave Covid isolation on Monday morning. Souths have just one full training session this week – on Monday – before a light captain’s run, possibly just 15 minutes, on Wednesday.

That will leave little time to prepare for Mitchell, who has played just three games in the past 10 months because of suspension, hamstring and knee injuries and now Covid.

Latrell Mitchell is unlikely to return for Round 15. Picture: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images
Latrell Mitchell is unlikely to return for Round 15. Picture: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

While a final decision won’t be reached until late Monday, Souths are incredibly reluctant to risk Mitchell this week given his limited preparation. With another week’s delay, Mitchell could secure a solid 13-day preparation for the Eels game.

NSW coach Brad Fittler would be highly reluctant to select Mitchell for Origin II on June 29 in Perth if the Rabbitohs star hasn’t played a NRL match since round five, when he re-injured his hamstring.

Souths coach Jason Demetriou has conceded it would be “unlikely” Mitchell will be selected to play St George Illawarra.

Mitchell returned from America last week where he spent a fortnight - at significant cost to Souths – working on his troublesome hamstring with Philadelphia training guru Bill Knowles.

“Latrell’s worked incredibly hard on his recovery from injury and he is an amazing athlete that would rise to any challenge,” said Souths CEO, Blake Solly.

“He will hopefully return to the team from a bout of Covid tomorrow, and we will know more then. Like every NRL club, our preference would be for a player to return to the field via club football before selection in an Origin team.”

Asked would Mitchell play Saints, Demetriou said: “Unlikely. We will get a look at him on Monday and see where he’s at. He’s had Covid so first and foremost we have to make sure he’s healthy.

“I know everyone is moving on and getting on with life but it (Covid) still knocks you around. He hasn’t run for two weeks either. There is a lot of expectation and pressure on Latrell but for us it will be a medical decision.

“We will make a decision on how he presents and whether we think medically he is fit enough to handle playing and if he’s not then we will get him ready for round 16.”

NSW may be searching for a new centre with Kotoni Staggs battling a left shoulder injury sustained in Origin I.

South Sydney Rabbitohs coach Jason Demetriou. Picture: NRL Photos
South Sydney Rabbitohs coach Jason Demetriou. Picture: NRL Photos

DRAGONS v RABBITOHS

Thursday, 7.50pm, WIN Stadium Wollongong

Dragons: Mat Feagai is due back from an illness that saw him miss the clash with North Queensland. This would push last week’s debutant Jonathon Reuben out of the side.

Mikaele Ravalawa is also pushing to return from a hamstring injury and would replace Tautau Moga if cleared.

Tariq Sims returns after being rested from Origin and will start in the back-row.

I also expect Jaydn Su’A to start on the edge having made a successful return from injury last weekend.

Rabbitohs: Latrell Mitchell’s highly anticipated return from injury has taken a setback having undertaken Covid protocols on return from America.

He’s expected to be given another week with the representative round coming up, and is likely to return in Round 16.

This will see Kodi Nikorima continue with the goal-kicking duties for another week.

Blake Taaffe is likely to replace Peter Mamouzelos as the utility on the bench.

SEA EAGLES v COWBOYS

Friday, 6pm, 4 Pines Park, Sydney

Sea Eagles: Daly Cherry-Evans will return from a minor quad issue sustained during Origin.

This will see Josh Schuster shift out of the halves, either to the bench or starting in the back-row in place of Andrew Davey.

Cowboys: Heilum Luki sustained a season ending ACL injury in the win over the Dragons.

Jeremiah Nanai is expected to return following a minor knee injury and would start on the edge.

Reuben Cotter returns after being rested following his mammoth Origin effort and will start at prop, with Coen Hess reverting to the bench.

Mackenzie Falco and Reuben Cotter have welcomed a baby girl. Picture: Instagram
Mackenzie Falco and Reuben Cotter have welcomed a baby girl. Picture: Instagram

STORM v BRONCOS

Friday, 7.55pm, AAMI Park, Melbourne

Storm: Xavier Coates will again miss out having sustained a serious ankle injury in the Origin opener.

Ryan Papenhuyzen is due back from injury and would come in at fullback, shifting Nick Meaney to the wing, and impressive debutant Grant Anderson out of the side.

Coach Craig Bellamy may be tempted to retain Anderson, with Dean Ieremia an alternative option to drop out of the side.

Harry Grant will start at hooker, with Brandon Smith shifting back to the bench.

Broncos: Plenty happening at the Broncos with Origin and injury creating movement in the side.

Kurt Capewell will return in the back-row after being rested after Origin, pushing Teui Robati to the bench.

Selwyn Cobbo returns on the wing after his rest post Origin, which will see Jordan Pereira drop out of the side.

Herbie Farnworth suffered a ruptured bicep and will miss an extended period, with Kotoni Staggs likely to return from a shoulder niggle, and Brenko Lee retaining a spot at centre.

Adam Reynolds suffered a rib injury and must prove his fitness to take his part in the clash but is considered a decent chance to play.

Payne Haas suffered an AC joint injury to the opposite shoulder to the one he had issues with earlier in the season.

Considered a pain tolerance issue, he’ll be assessed during the week but is in serious doubt.

Cory Paix is expected to miss numerous weeks with an MCL injury, while Ezra Mam must pass concussion protocol to take his part having copped a late knock in the win over the Raiders.

SHARKS v TITANS

Saturday, 3pm, Coffs International Stadium, Coffs Harbour

Sharks: No major changes expected at the Sharks, with Dale Finucane pushing to return from injury, but with the rep round looming it’s likely he’ll be back in Round 16.

Titans: AJ Brimson will return having undertaken Covid protocols that saw him miss the clash with South Sydney.

He’ll play fullback, with Jamayne Isaako moving to the wing and either Esan Marsters or Greg Marzhew dropping out of the team.

All of David Fifita, Corey Thompson and Kevin Proctor are pushing to return from injuries but may be given another week with the looming rep round.

Jamayne Isaako is set to switch to the wing (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)
Jamayne Isaako is set to switch to the wing (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

WARRIORS v PANTHERS

Saturday, 5.30pm, Moreton Daily Stadium, Redcliffe

Warriors: Addin Fonua-Blake is due back from a foot injury within the next week or two. If available he’d be a straight swap for Ben Murdoch-Masila who suffered a dislocated elbow against the Sharks.

Josh Curran is likely to start on the edge, with Tohu Harris at lock and Jack Murchie dropping to the bench.

Following a tough outing on the weekend, Rocco Berry may be replaced at centre by Jesse Arthars.

Panthers: Isaah Yeo will return, with Matt Eisenhuth to make way at lock. No other changes are expected at Penrith.

EELS v ROOSTERS

Saturday, 7.35pm, CommBank Stadium, Sydney

Eels: No major changes expected at Parramatta despite the shock loss to the Bulldogs. Dylan Brown looked hampered in the clash having entered the game with an ankle injury, he’ll be monitored throughout the week but is likely to play.

Roosters: With a history of concussion issues, Luke Keary is in major doubt for the clash with the Eels.

Trent Robinson has two main replacement options.

Drew Hutchinson could be a straight swap, with Connor Watson starting at hooker.

He may also opt to shift Joey Manu to five-eighth, with Billy Smith slotting in at centre.

Jared Waerea-Hargreaves will continue his push to return from a hamstring injury.

Luke Keary is in major doubt. Picture: NRL Photos / Brett Costello
Luke Keary is in major doubt. Picture: NRL Photos / Brett Costello

RAIDERS v KNIGHTS

Sunday, 2pm, GIO Stadium, Canberra

Raiders: Jordan Rapana will return from suspension on the wing, with James Schiller dropping out of the side.

Josh Papali’i will start at prop, with Corey Horsburgh reverting back to the bench.

Knights: Kalyn Ponga failed a HIA against the Panthers and must pass concussion protocols to take his place.

If unavailable, Tex Hoy would slot in at fullback.

Having returned from injury off the bench last week, Kurt Mann is likely to regain his starting lock role in coming rounds.

BULLDOGS v TIGERS

Sunday, 4.05pm, CommBank Stadium, Sydney

Bulldogs: Luke Thompson must pass concussion protocols to take his part in the clash, but is likely to return. Chris Patolo failed his HIA in the upset win over Parramatta, with Thompson to be a straight replacement if he isn’t cleared on the six day turnaround.

Tigers: Brent Naden faces a lengthy suspension after being sent off for a dangerous throw in the loss to Manly.

Interim coach Brett Kimmorley has numerous options to replace him, including Junior Tupou and Luke Garner.

Centres James Roberts and Oliver Gildart are both due back from injury in the next fortnight and will also be considered.

Having returned from injury in NSW Cup over the weekend, Jake Simpkin may come into the side in place of Jacob Liddle.

Originally published as NRL Round 15 Early Mail: Reynolds out, Haas in doubt, Latrell Mitchell to miss