NRL teams Round 8: Early Mail, predicted changes for upcoming round

The Warriors’ hopes of bouncing back from their thrashing at the hands of the Storm have dimmed, while the Sharks will add some class. Predicted NRL team changes for Round 8.

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-Zelexniak (Concussion) are out.

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SHARKS WELCOME BACK SKIPPER

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.

HAAS TO PLAY THROUGH PAYNE BARRIER

The Broncos have received a major boost for Thursday night’s clash against Cronulla, with star prop Payne Haas expected to play.

Haas suffered a grade one AC joint injury in last Friday’s comeback win against the battling Bulldogs.

While the injury is likely to require a painkilling injection, Haas is expected to push through it for the game against the in-form Sharks at Suncorp Stadium.

Haas briefly left the field to receive treatment on the shoulder, but returned to register a staggering 23 runs for 219m.

Payne Haas is set to play through the pain barrier. Picture: NRL Photos
Payne Haas is set to play through the pain barrier. Picture: NRL Photos

His availability is key for the Broncos, who are looking for their fourth win of the season when they come up against the red-hot Sharks.

It is understood Haas’ injury requires a week’s rest but Broncos medicos believe the hulking prop can manage the pain and get through this week’s showdown with the Sharks.

Meanwhile, Haas’ engine-room colleague Jake Turpin is still battling shoulder and pectoral soreness and will be sidelined for the second consecutive week, with Broncos coach Kevin Walters to retain the Cory Paix-Billy Walters alliance at hooker. Walters is tipped to start again to take the sting out of the Sharks forwards, opening the door for Paix to produce the dummy-half snipes that inspired his match-turning try against the Bulldogs last week.

GUN TO PUSH THROUGH PAYNE BARRIER

A former KFC SuperCoach cheapie is set for a resurgence.

The injury to Jack Bird (suspected broken arm) means early season bargain Talatau Amone is expected to start in the halves for the Dragons.

After being one of the most popular players in the game for round one, owned by 55,200 KFC SuperCoaches, Amone has plummeted to 16 per cent ownership and dropped $71,300 after being demoted to the bench.

But he should surge in price, and ownership, after regaining the starting five-eighth spot.

Talatau Amone is set to start in the halves (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
Talatau Amone is set to start in the halves (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

KFC SuperCoaches have their fingers crossed for positive news on two potential cheapies.

South Sydney young gun Isaiah Tass could be in line for a starting spot with centre Taane Milne facing one to two weeks out for a high tackle, although Jaxson Paulo will also come into contention.

Meanwhile, while the Bulldogs are expected to have their Covid quartet back this week, impressive debutant Jacob Kiraz may have done enough to retain his spot.

Isaiah Tass celebrates a try on debut. Picture: NRL Photos
Isaiah Tass celebrates a try on debut. Picture: NRL Photos

BRONCOS v SHARKS

Thursday, 7.50pm, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

Broncos: Payne Haas will be the big watch throughout the week having played through the Bulldogs clash with a grade one AC joint injury.

He’ll be monitored by the club but isn’t a guaranteed starter for the clash with Cronulla, however he is expected to play.

Jake Turpin will likely be available for selection following a pec injury, but whether he’s selected is another question with Billy Walters and Cory Paix among the hooking ranks.

Sharks: A few changes expected at the in-form Sharks with Dale Finucane expected to return from a concussion.

I expect him to start at prop, with Cam McInnes retaining his spot at lock.

Wade Graham is due back from injury, whether he’s eased back off the bench or starting in the second-row in place of Teig Wilton will be the main question.

Connor Tracey is also nearing a return from injury and will likely replace Braydon Trindall as the bench utility when cleared.

Payne Haas has a shoulder issue (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)
Payne Haas has a shoulder issue (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

TITANS v PANTHERS

Friday, 6pm, Cbus Super Stadium, Gold Coast

Titans: Either of Phillip Sami or Corey Thompson are expected to slot back into the backline, with the David Fifita centre experiment set to end.

He’ll return to the back-row, pushing Kevin Proctor either to the bench or out of the squad entirely.

Panthers: Brian To’o may be an inclusion on the extended bench as he pushes to return from a lengthy knee injury.

While he may yet be another week away, if cleared to return I’d expect Charlie Staines to drop out of the squad, with Taylan May retaining his wing role.

Ivan Cleary will have another decision on whether to shift To’o to the more unfamiliar right wing role, should he choose to retain the combination of May and Izack Tago on the left.

Morgan Harper is facing the axe. Picture: NRL Photos
Morgan Harper is facing the axe. Picture: NRL Photos

RABBITOHS v SEA EAGLES

Friday, 7.55pm, Central Coast Stadium, Gosford

Rabbitohs: Taane Milne is facing one to two weeks out for a high tackle.

This may open a door for exciting rookie Isaiah Tass to earn a start in the backline in his place, however Joseph Paulo will also come into contention.

Jacob Host suffered a shoulder injury and is expected to spend some time on the sidelines, with Siliva Havili likely to take his place on the bench.

Sea Eagles: Could be without a near entire starting forward pack. They are certainly going to be without forwards Josh Schuster (ankle), Josh Aloiai (shoulder), Morgan Boyle (ankle), Dylan Walker (quad) and Taniela Paseka (knee) while star fullback Tom Trbojevic (knee) is still weeks away from returning.

Paseka and Walker were injured during Thursday’s loss to Cronulla. Back-rower Andrew Davey (shoulder) is also expected to join them on the sidelines. Paseka will miss at least a month while there are fears Davey may need surgery.

To compound their woes star back-rower Haumole Olakau’atu is facing a 1-2 game ban after he was charged for his high tackle on Cronulla’s Aiden Tolman which resulted in Olakau’atu spending 10 minutes in the sin bin.

The careless grade two high tackle charge means Olakau’atu will be suspended for two games if he fights the charge and loses.

The Sea Eagles are hopeful props Marty Taupau (Covid-19) and Sean Keppie (concussion) are cleared to play.

After being torn apart by Siosifa Talakai, there’s a fair chance Morgan Harper will be dropped in place of Tolatau Koula.

Full story in casualty ward

WARRIORS v RAIDERS

Saturday, 3pm, Moreton Daily Stadium, Redcliffe

Warriors: Kodi Nikorima tested positive for Covid and is unlikely to be cleared in time to return. Josh Curran suffered a suspected MCL injury and failed to play the second half. If confirmed, he’ll miss an extended period of action.

Eliesa Katoa would likely come into the starting side if required, while Tohu Harris is expect to be a few more weeks away.

Dallin Watene-Zelezniak was taken from the field following a nasty head injury. On a five day turnaround he’s expected to miss the clash with the Raiders.

Promising youngster Viliame Vailea extended his contract with the club last week, due back from injury he could come into the starting side.

Raiders: Ricky Stuart’s loyalty to his starting side will be tested after another big loss to Penrith.

Whether he sticks strong or shakes up his squad remains to be seen.

Elliott Whitehead is expected to return from a facial injury, with Hudson Young likely to drop out.

BULLDOGS v ROOSTERS

Saturday, 5.30pm, Accor Stadium, Sydney

Bulldogs: Ava Seumanufagai, Brent Naden and Reece Hoffman will all be available for selection after undergoing Covid protocols.

Chris Patolo should also be available for selection after last week’s head knock.

Naden will likely come into the side on the wing in place of Jayden Okunbor.

Impressive debutant Jacob Kiraz may have done enough to retain his spot in the side.

Seumanufagai and Patolo will likely join the bench in place of Joe Stimson and Billy Tsikrikas.

Roosters: Daniel Tupou was placed on report for a high shot and could miss some action if charged by the judiciary. This would likely see Kevin Naiqama come into the team on the wing, while Billy Smith will also come into contention if cleared to return from injury.

If Tupou is cleared, both Naiqama and Smith will push for Paul Momirovski spot in the side.

Scott Drinkwater has been brilliant at fullback. Picture: NRL Photos
Scott Drinkwater has been brilliant at fullback. Picture: NRL Photos

EELS v COWBOYS

Saturday, 7.05pm, TIO Stadium, Darwin

Eels: Tom Opacic should be available for selection and would return at centre, pushing Dylan Brown back to the halves and Jakob Arthur back to the bench.

Cowboys: Todd Payten has a big decision to make on the returning Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow.

With Scott Drinkwater’s strong form in his absence, The Hammer may be forced to return in a new role in the backline.

Reuben Cotter is likely to be named on the bench again, before a game day switch sees him start as per recent rounds.

KNIGHTS v STORM

Sunday, 2pm, McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle

Knights: Kalyn Ponga passed his on-field HIA in the loss to Parramatta, meaning he’ll be put through protocols in the coming week, but is expected to play.

Brodie Jones suffered an elbow injury and is in doubt for the clash with Melbourne, adding further pain to the club’s back-row injury crisis.

Hymel Hunt is due back from injury and will likely replace Edrick Lee on the wing should he get through the week without issue.

Storm: Following a stellar performance, Ryan Papenhuyzen left the field with trouble to his ankle.

After the swelling last week post game, it’s highly likely this was just precautionary due to the margin late in the game.

Reimis Smith left the field with a HIA and failed to return, on a six day turnaround he’ll be in plenty of doubt for the clash with Newcastle.

Daine Laurie has a knee injury (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)
Daine Laurie has a knee injury (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

DRAGONS v TIGERS

Sunday, 4.05pm, WIN Stadium, Wollongong

Dragons: Jack Bird suffered a suspected fractured forearm that will see him miss several weeks if confirmed. This will likely present an opportunity for Talatau Amone to return to the starting side in the halves having made a strong impact off the bench in the ANZAC Day upset win over the Roosters.

Jaydn Su’A suffered an ankle injury that will likely see him sidelined for multiple weeks, this would see Tariq Sims return to the starting team having been benched in favour of Josh McGuire on Monday.

Tigers: A few moving pieces at the rejuvenated Tigers with James Roberts likely to return from injury at centre.

Kelma Tuilagi missed the win over the Rabbitohs due to illness. He’s expected to return in the back-row.

Daine Laurie suffered an MCL injury and will miss 6-8 weeks of action. Starford To’a will likely shift to fullback in his absence, meaning Luke Garner may be retained at centre for the time being.

Jake Simpkin is expected to return at hooker following some time on the sidelines due to a knee injury.

Originally published as NRL teams Round 8: Early Mail, predicted changes for upcoming round

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