Broncos coach Kevin Walters is considering another scrumbase reshuffle with Karmichael Hunt and Albert Kelly putting pressure on besieged playmaker Anthony Milford for Saturday's clash against the Roosters.

Hunt was set to be called up for his first NRL game in 12 years this week, only to suffer a minor knee injury playing for Souths Logan in the Intrust Super Cup on Sunday.

 

Watch The 2021 NRL Telstra Premiership Live & On-Demand with No Ad-Breaks During Play. New to Kayo? Try 14-Days Free Now >

 

Walters is awaiting results of scans to determine whether to pitchfork Hunt into the halves at the expense of Milford for the Roosters showdown at the SCG.

Should Hunt be ruled out, Walters will also consider former Titans halfback Kelly, who has been strong calling the shots for Souths Logan in the second tier.

 

Karmichael Hunt is in the frame for a Broncos recall. Picture: Liam Kidston
Karmichael Hunt is in the frame for a Broncos recall. Picture: Liam Kidston

 

The one certainty is that Milford is walking the tightrope at Red Hill.

Walters is becoming increasingly frustrated with Milford's erratic form and the off-contract playmaker is running out of chances in a bid to convince Brisbane hierarchy he is worth keeping next season.

In other selection news, Brendan Piakura's NRL debut is set to be put on ice with the boom 18-year-old suffering a stomach bug which ruled him out of feeder club Norths Devils' clash last weekend.

Piakura was set to replace the suspended Jordan Riki but Walters will have to consider other options, including Keenan Palasia or Kobe Hetherington.

- Peter Badel

 

 

BIG GUNS BACK FOR SOUTHS

 

South Sydney will be boosted by the returns of Josh Mansour and Latrell Mitchell for Sunday's clash against the table-topping Penrith.

Mansour is expected to come into the side to take on his former club that let him go in controversial circumstances at the end of last year.

The winger has been sidelined with a hamstring injury since round six.

Mitchell will play his first game in a month when he returns from suspension for the clash in Dubbo

It's a huge test for Souths who are still missing Cameron Murray and Campbell Graham but need to lift after their 50-0 smashing to fellow premiership heavyweights Melbourne two weeks ago.

- Paul Crawley

 

 

 

DRASTIC DRAGONS CHANGES AS 12 RULED OUT

By Dean Ritchie

Winger Cody Ramsey could be a shock switch to fullback and young Billy Burns named to start as St George Illawarra coach Anthony Griffin desperately attempts to cover the unprecedented loss of 12 players.

The Dragons have become the hardest hit by the NRL's crackdown on foul play with

four players pleading guilty to offences from Sunday's loss to Melbourne.

Dragons coaching staff are now scrambling to nail down a fit and competitive side for Friday night's match against Cronulla at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium.

The list of unavailable players at Saints has reached crisis point.

Champion fullback Matt Dufty (shoulder) is the latest casualty and could be missing for up to six weeks with a shoulder injury.

There were five charges levelled at St George Illawarra players from Sunday and all pleaded guilty. They were winger Mikaele Ravalawa (two weeks), forward Josh McGuire (five games), forward Tariq Sims (one game) and centre Tyrell Fuimaono (five games).

McGuire pleaded guilty to a second charge and accepted a $2600 fine.

The NRL's match review committee charged six players with a total of 24 weeks in suspensions from Sunday's three matches in Magic Round.

Ramsay, primarily a winger, is a prime candidate to replace Dufty.

Jack Bird could also be moved from centre to fullback but Ramsay is the favourite.

 

 

Max Feagai, who came off the bench on Sunday against Melbourne, is a candidate for a wing spot should Ramsay shift to fullback.

In a timely boost for the Dragons, winger Jordan Pereira will return from a three-match suspension incurred against the Sydney Roosters while forwards Kaide Ellis and Jackson Ford are contenders to take McGuire's position.

The Dragons could look to young Burns as the replacement for suspended Fuimaono.

Young five-eighth Junior Amone, who made his NRL debut two weeks ago, could be named on the bench as cover. Saints remain thin in the outside backs with Brayden Wiliame still out with a calf injury.

Other Dragons players unavailable include Zac Lomax (thumb), Jayden Sullivan (hamstring), Andrew McCullough (eye), and Mat Feagai (ankle).

The club is also playing this season minus star forward Cam McInnes (knee).

Jack de Belin must wait until May 28 to find out if his sexual assault case will lead to a third trial. If the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions declines to proceed with another trial that would allow de Belin to return to the Dragons for the first time since the end of the 2018 season.

McCullough left the field against Melbourne but has been cleared of any facial fractures. He will be monitored this week.

Fuimaono was sent off for a sickening high shot on Storm fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen.

 

 

 

"It must be said that our players don't intentionally go out to hurt the opposition," Dragons general manager Ben Haran said.

"Our players' integrity should not be questioned in this respect.

"After a detailed review and seeking advice on each individual matter we have decided to take the early guilty plea on each charge; given also the different loading and prior offences of each player as well as the change the game is currently undergoing.

"We'll move on and look forward to seeing our wider squad step up against the Sharks this Friday night."

The Dragons have a soft draw over the next four weeks against Cronulla, Wests Tigers, Brisbane and Canterbury.

St George Illawarra then play Canberra and the New Zealand Warriors.

Saints will formally announce their side at 4pm on Tuesday.

- Dean Ritchie

 

PAP TO SIT OUT AT LEAST A WEEK

Melbourne fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen will miss this weekend's game against Canberra as he continues to recover from a sickening head shot during Sunday's Magic Round clash with the Dragons.

Papenhuyzen was "okay but a bit ginger" on Monday after copping a stray arm from Dragons centre Tyrell Fuimaono to his head in the 11th minute of Sunday's game at Suncorp Stadium.

The 22-year-old fullback had to be taken from the field on a medicab after laying unconscious on the ground for several minutes.

Fuimaono was sent from the field for the head-high hit and now faces a five to six week ban for his grade one reckless shot.

Papenhuyzen has been ruled out of this weekend's match with Canberra as Melbourne's medical staff continue to monitor his condition.

 

 

With just a five-day turnaround into next Thursday's clash with Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium, the speedster could also miss another week to recover from the serious incident.

Melbourne football manager Frank Ponissi said the star No.1 was doing okay but would be on very limited duties at training this week as the club doctor assesses his condition.

"He's not going to play this week and it's one of those ones that our team doctor will monitor," Ponissi said.

"He was pretty crook after the game.

"He's OK today but he's still feeling a bit doughy.

"We're just going to monitor him and he'll do very little at training this week."

The loss of Papenhuyzen will be a big blow for the Storm who are also likely to be without Cameron Munster (foot) and Harry Grant (hamstring) this weekend because of injury.

The Storm have relocated to the Sunshine Coast for a three-week period, in which they will play at Suncorp Stadium twice in three games.

- Chris Honnery

 

Ryan Papenhuyzen is taken out high by Tyrell Fuimaono.
Ryan Papenhuyzen is taken out high by Tyrell Fuimaono.

POSITIONAL SWITCH FOR SCHUSTER

Manly's Josh Schuster is in the frame to take over at five-eighth from Kieran Foran who could be sidelined for up to a month with a fractured hand.

Foran picked up the injury in Friday night's win over Brisbane, paving the way for youngster Schuster to move from the back row into his preferred position at No.6 for Sunday's clash with Parramatta at Bankwest Stadium.

But captain Daly Cherry-Evans says Cade Cust is well and truly in the frame to replace Foran in the halves, thanks in large part to Schuster's outstanding form in the forwards.

"I think Josh would be more than capable of playing five-eighth this weekend," Cherry-Evans said.

"(But) Josh is going to be hard move out of the position ... he's been going that well in the back row."

- Russell Jackson

 

 

 

COWBOYS V KNIGHTS

Thursday 20 May, Queensland Country Bank Stadium, 7:50pm

Cowboys: Come into the game off a five-day turnaround. Without Coen Hess after he failed gameday HIA on weekend which will see Francis Molo start at prop with either Corey Jensen or Ben Condon - who dropped to 18th man on weekend with Tom Gilbert replacing him on bench - coming back into 17. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow is close to returning from an ankle injury and if fit could replace either Javid Bowen or Connelly Lemuelu at centre.

Knights: Searching for form and likely to be without Kalyn Ponga again after he was withdrawn on weekend due to a groin injury with Tex Hoy to continue at fullback despite suffering a dislocated finger during the game. Blake Green has missed the last two games due to a rib injury and will return in the halves to add some experience with Phoenix Crossland the player to make way. Hymel Hunt suffered a re-occurrence of a hamstring injury and it's hoped Brayden Musgrove will recover from a rib injury to replace him on the wing. If not, Gehamat Shibasaki could come back into 17 with Edrick Lee and Dominic Young still injured. However with rules changing this weekend where development players and NSW Cup players become eligible to play NRL, someone could pop up out of nowhere. Sauaso Sue and Jacob Saifiti both passed gameday HIAs but will be monitored during the week. Mitch Barnett could be in some doubt due to a leg injury after copping a knock in the first half but was able to run it out and play on.

 

WARRIORS V TIGERS

Friday 21 May, Central Coast Stadium, 6:00pm

Warriors: Come in off a five-day turnaround and will be without Josh Curran after he suffered an elbow injury on weekend with Eliesa Katoa to return. Rocco Berry failed gameday HIA and with the five-day turnaround will be ruled out. It's hopeful Marcelo Montoya can return from a knee injury but if not Ed Kosi will be recalled. Bunty Afoa suffered a shoulder injury which forced him from the field on weekend but was able to return. Reece Walsh may start at fullback which could see Roger Tuivasa-Scheck moved to the wing. Ben Murdoch-Masila and Wayde Egan both passed gameday HIAs but will be monitored for symptoms. Murdoch-Masila and Leeson Ah Mau were placed on report on Sunday but missed the charge sheet.

Wests Tigers: Luke Garner could be in some doubt after suffering an arm injury whilst Joe Ofahengaue passed gameday HIA and will be monitored but should be fit to play with same 17 expected.

 

 

SHARKS V DRAGONS

Friday 21 May, Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, 7:55pm

Sharks: Out of form and searching for a winning combination. More than likely without Shaun Johnson after he missed the game on weekend due to a hamstring injury with Chad Townsend and Matt Moylan to continue in the halves. Ronaldo Mulitalo is expected to return from a knee injury after training with the squad last week with Mawene Hiroti the player to make way.

Dragons: St George Illawarrra enforcer Josh McGuire is facing up to seven weeks on the sideline after being cited for a grade three dangerous contact charge against Melbourne's Josh Addo-Carr. Dragons' Tyrell Fuimaono is also facing six weeks on the pine after he was slapped with a grade one reckless high tackle on Storm fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen, who missed the rest of the match because of the tackle. Dragons coach Anthony Griffin is also looking at the possibility of losing backrower Tariq Sims and winger Mikaele Ravalawa. Ravalawa, who was returning from a two week suspension on Sunday, is now facing a further three weeks for a shoulder charge on Justin Olam. Sims can escape with a one week ban with an early plea for a grade one dangerous contact charge on Tyson Smoothy.

- Full story here by Fatima Kdouh

Matt Dufty is looking at an extended period on the sideline due to a shoulder injury which will see Cody Ramsey or Jack Bird move to fullback. Jordan Pereira will return from suspension on the wing. Andrew McCullough failed to finish the game on weekend due to an eye injury and could be in some doubt. Brayden Wiliame has been missing due to calf injury and his return couldn't come at a better time.

 

 

TITANS V BULLDOGS

Saturday 22 May, Cbus Super Stadium, 3:00pm

Titans: Will be without Herman Ese'ese after he was sent off on Sunday night. He is facing 3-4 weeks. Sam McIntyre left the field late in the game due to HIA and will need to pass required protocols to play. Kevin Proctor copped a knock to his knee he injured a couple of weeks ago but battled on to play the game out and should recover to play. Ash Taylor returned to training last week after missing the last two games due to a hip injury and could replace Tanah Boyd in the halves. Utility Tyrone Peachey is also facing two weeks for a crusher tackle on Penrith forward Liam Martin.

Bulldogs: Have a few players in doubt after suffering injuries on weekend. Tui Katoa failed HIA and with new rules coming in this week where development and reserves players become eligible for selection we could see someone like Aaron Schoupp come into the side at centre with Nick Meaney moving to the wing. Adam Elliott (knock), Corey Waddell (knee) and Ofahiki Ogden (head knock) will need to be checked. Josh Jackson (calf) and Jeremy Marshall-King (foot) are both close to returning.

ROOSTERS V BRONCOS

Saturday 22 May, Sydney Cricket Ground, 5:30pm

Roosters: For once this season came out of the game with no major injuries, just a few bumps and bruises with Daniel Tupou (ankle), Angus Crichton (head knock) and Sam Walker (shoulder) all set to play with no changes expected to 17. Billy Smith is closing in on returning from a shoulder injury and could be up for NRL selection in coming weeks.

Broncos: Without Jordan Riki who has copped a two-week suspension. It's hoped Alex Glenn will recover from a calf injury to replace him but if not we could see rookie Brendan Piakura make his NRL debut. There are reports Karmichael Hunt could come into contention in the halves but considering he has been playing centre for Souths Logan in QLD Cup, centre could be his position to add some experience to a young team.

 

 

RAIDERS V STORM

Saturday 22 May, GIO Stadium, 7:35pm

Raiders: Hit hard by suspension with Josh Papalii (three games), Jack Wighton (one game) and Josh Hodgson (one game) all out with early guilty pleas. Sam Wiliams or Matt Frawley would replace Wighton with Siliva Havili returning on the bench to replace Hodgson. Joseph Tapine missed the game on weekend due to a knee injury but I expect him to return to replace Papalii in 17. Corey Harawira-Naera suffered a head clash in final minutes on weekend and could be in some doubt whilst Corey Horsburgh should be fit to play after suffering what looked to be sternum injury, only to go off under HIA which he passed and returned to the field. Jarrod Croker continues to be unavailable due to a shoulder injury.

Storm: The squad has relocated to Twin Waters in Queensland for the next three weeks. Ryan Papenhuyzen is out due to concussion which will see Nicho Hynes play fullback after he passed gameday HIA early in game on weekend. Tyson Smoothy will be missing due to a knee injury but that will be offset with Brandon Smith returning from suspension. Ryley Jacks left the field late in game on weekend due to HIA and will need to pass protocols and if out Cooper Johns would come into the halves to partner Jahrome Hughes. Harry Grant (hamstring) and Cameron Munster (foot) are both expected to be unavailable due to injury.

 

RABBITOHS V PANTHERS

Sunday 23 May, Apex Oval, Dubbo, 2:00pm

Rabbitohs: What a game for Dubbo. The Rabbitohs will have a massive inclusion with Latrell Mitchell to return at fullback from suspension and Cody Walker to move back to his preferred five-eighth position and Benji Marshall dropping to the bench. Josh Mansour has returned to training and is expected to come onto the wing to replace Taane Milne.

Panthers: Welcome back Kurt Capewell after he missed Magic Round to due concussion with Liam Martin to move back to the bench and Scott Sorensen or rookie J'maine Hopgood dropping out of 17. Stephen Crichton (ribs) and Moses Leota (shoulder) will need to be checked after suffering minor injuries on Sunday night. Tyrone May suffered a head knock on the weekend and could be in some doubt.

EELS V SEA EAGLES

Sunday 23 May, Bankwest Stadium, 4:05pm

Eels: Eels have a few players with bumps and bruises but all should overcome them with Clint Gutherson (ankle), Mitch Moses (calf), Blake Ferguson (leg) and Tom Opacic (cork) all expected to play.

Sea Eagles: Without Kieran Foran after he suffered a broken hand at Magic Round which will see Josh Schuster move to his preferred five-eighth position and Sean Keppie starting in 2RF. Curtis Sironen's return from injury suffered a setback but it's hoped he can return this week. Karl Lawton is close to returning from an Achilles injury and could come into contention for a bench position.

Originally published as Early Mail: Broncos set for another halves reshuffle