Dragons captain Ben Hunt has been selected to play against the Sharks in Thursday night’s local derby, squashing any hopes of an early release to join the Broncos. While there were speculations that last week’s game against the Warriors would be his final for the Red V, Hunt will remain with the team for the time being, with a potential move to the Titans in 2024. With Jack Bird and Moses Suli ruled out due to injuries, Hunt will face a tough challenge against a refreshed Sharks side, especially with Toby Rudolf waiting in the reserves.
In Melbourne on Friday night, both the Storm and Panthers will see their key players return for the highly anticipated showdown at Marvel Stadium. Cameron Munster, who missed the last game due to illness, will make a comeback for the hosts along with Tui Kamikamica, who is returning from a calf strain. The Panthers, on the other hand, will have Blues quintet Brian To’o, Stephen Crichton, Jarome Luai, Isaah Yeo, and Liam Martin back in action after being rested in their last win against the Knights. However, Nathan Cleary is still recovering and will be unavailable for a few more weeks.
Daine Laurie will make only his fourth appearance of the season after spending most of his time in reserve grade. The Tigers will have him partner with Brandon Wakeham in the halves as they prepare for life without Luke Brooks, who will be joining Manly next year. Tigers prop David Klemmer expressed his excitement for Laurie’s return, noting his attacking prowess and defensive abilities. Klemmer believes Laurie will add a spark to the team and is looking forward to seeing him perform.
The Tigers will face a Cowboys team full of confidence after a series of impressive victories. The Cowboys will receive an additional boost with the return of Jason Taumalolo, seeking revenge for the previous loss to the Tigers at Leichhardt Oval. Meanwhile, the Broncos have included Reece Walsh in their lineup, but Tristan Sailor is on standby in case Walsh faces any potential judiciary issues. Unfortunately, Brisbane has been hit with bad news as Jordan Riki and Thomas Flegler will be sidelined for an extended period due to foot injuries sustained in their loss against the Titans.
The Dolphins are set to welcome back Jeremy Marshall-King after his absence in their disappointing defeat against Parramatta. Conversely, the Sea Eagles will witness the return of Jake and Ben Trbojevic from injury, along with Jason Saab, Brad Parker, and Kelma Tuilagi, who will all regain their spots in the starting lineup. The Sea Eagles will face the Roosters in a crucial match, with Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii making his comeback for the visitors. However, the Roosters will be without Egan Butcher, Angus Crichton, and Sitili Tupouniua due to their respective injuries, giving way for Siua Wong to make his debut off the bench.
Josh Papalii will be absent for the next two games for the Raiders due to a hamstring strain. As a result, Pasami Saulo has been named as the prop for their upcoming match against the Gold Coast on Saturday afternoon. Canterbury’s Khaled Rajab will take Karl Oloapu‘s place in the halves as the Bulldogs face the Knights, who will be missing veteran centre Dane Gagai.