Sports writer, JASON OLIVER, looks over all 8 teams and previews this weekend’s Rugby League action with his NRL tips for all Round 14 matches.
|Scott Drinkwater||1||Cody Ramsey|
|Brendan Elliot||2||Mathew Feagai|
|Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow||3||Moses Suli|
|Peta Hiku||4||Zac Lomax|
|Murray Taulagi||5||Tautau Moga|
|Ben Hampton||6||Talatau Amone|
|Chad Townsend||7||Ben Hunt|
|Jordan McLean||8||Francis Molo|
|Reece Robson||9||Moses Mbye|
|Coen Hess||10||Blake Lawrie|
|Tom Gilbert||11||Jack Bird|
|Heilum Luki||12||Tariq Sims|
|Jason Taumalolo||13||Jack de Belin|
|Jake Granville||14||Andrew McCullough|
|Connelly Lemuelu||15||Aaron Woods|
|Jamayne Taunoa-Brown||16||Michael Molo|
|Griffin Neame||17||Jayden Sullivan|
History: Played 35, Cowboys 18, Dragons 17
Last Meeting: Round 24: Cowboys 38 def. Dragons 16
Final Thoughts: The North Queensland Cowboys added another impressive chapter to their 2022 NRL season with a 32-6 win over the Titans despite being without State of Origin stars. Meanwhile, the St. George-Illawarra Dragons come in off a bye following their 34-24 win over the Bulldogs a week earlier.
Todd Payten is likely to be without a handful of Origin stars after naming the same Cowboys 17 that beat the Titans in Round 13. It’s a similar story for Anthony Griffin who has made only one change to the Dragons: Jayden Sullivan joins the bench in place of Tyrell Fuimaono.
We’d already confirmed that the Cowboys are, in fact, a very good NRL side before Round 13. However, to make it look so easy without their Origin reps suggests they might be more in the hunt for the premiership than first thought. This team thrives on defence and will back it again this week against a Dragons side that has struggled for points averaging only 17.4 per game. It’s often Ben Hunt or nothing in the Dragons attack and he’s coming into this one having played for the Maroons on Wednesday night. With what the Cowboys offer on both sides of the ball, the consistency at which they’re producing it, and the home ground advantage on Friday, Payten’s men should do it comfortably and continue to cement their place inside the Top 4.
|AJ Brimson||1||Kodi Nikorima|
|Greg Marzhew||2||Alex Johnston|
|Brian Kelly||3||Taane Milne|
|Patrick Herbert||4||Campbell Graham|
|Jamayne Isaako||5||Jaxson Paulo|
|Paul Turner||6||Cody Walker|
|Toby Sexton||7||Lachlan Ilias|
|Jarrod Wallace||8||Tevita Tatola|
|Erin Clark||9||Damien Cook|
|Isaac Liu||10||Thomas Burgess|
|Sam McIntyre||11||Keaon Koloamatangi|
|Beau Fermor||12||Jai Arrow|
|Tino Fa’asuamaleaui||13||Cameron Murray|
|Tanah Boyd||14||Peter Mamouzelos|
|Moeaki Fotuaika||15||Mark Nicholls|
|Jaimin Jolliffe||16||Siliva Havili|
|Sam Lisone||17||Hame Sele|
History: Played 20. Titans 6, Rabbitohs 14
Last Meeting: Round 22, 2021: Rabbitohs 36 def. Titans 6
Final Thoughts: It’s going from bad to worse for the Titans who failed to throw a punch at the Cowboys on the Gold Coast last week. The South Sydney Rabbitohs, on the other hand, will be rested and ready after beating the Tigers 44-18 in Round 12.
Jayden Campbell faces a lengthy stint on the sideline for the Titans with AJ Brimson moving to fullback and Paul Turner into the halves. Greg Marzhew also replaces the injured Corey Thompson on the wing. Cameron Murray has three days to recover from Origin if he’s to feature for the Rabbitohs on Saturday. The only confirmed changes are Tevita Tatola’s return and Taane Miline moving to centre with Jaxson Paulo to the wing.
The Titans need to fashion a response. Awful again last week, Justin Holbrook is a man under pressure in the coach’s box. While the plan seems to be to play AJ Brimson in the halves long term, he has pushed him back to fullback in a desperate attempt to inspire improvement. Paul Turner replaces him in the halves but has played his best football at the back in reserve grade this year. It’s the poor periods that continue to cost the Titans. Meanwhile, regardless of their form overall, the Rabbitohs can always pile on points in a hurry if given the opportunity. They’ve been threatening to click into gear for a few weeks now. The points came against the Tigers in Round 12. However, it remains to be seen whether or not the week off slows down that development. Regardless, if they’re given 20 minutes to consistently attack and find the line, they’ll create enough points to take the chocolates on Saturday afternoon.
|James Tedesco||1||Nick Meaney|
|Daniel Tupou||2||Dean Ieremia|
|Paul Momirovski||3||Marion Seve|
|Joseph Manu||4||Justin Olam|
|Joseph Suaalii||5||Xavier Coates|
|Sam Walker||6||Cameron Munster|
|Luke Keary||7||Jahrome Hughes|
|Lindsay Collins||8||Jesse Bromwich|
|Drew Hutchison||9||Harry Grant|
|Siosiua Taukeiaho||10||Nelson Asofa-Solomona|
|Angus Crichton||11||Felise Kaufusi|
|Sitili Tupouniua||12||Kenneath Bromwich|
|Nat Butcher||13||Josh King|
|Connor Watson||14||Brandon Smith|
|Fletcher Baker||15||Tui Kamikamica|
|Egan Butcher||16||Trent Loiero|
|Terrell May||17||Alec MacDonald|
History: Played 43, Roosters 18, Storm 24
Last Meeting: Round 16, 2021: Storm 46 def. Roosters 0
Final Thoughts: The Sydney Roosters continue to be one of the more difficult teams to read after losing 22-16 to the Raiders in Round 13. As for the Melbourne Storm, they did it relatively easy a fortnight ago to beat the Sea Eagles 28-8.
The Roosters have named their Origin stars to start but a lot can change before kickoff in this team list. Similarly, the Storm have done the same with their Queensland representatives. Nelson Asofa-Solomona has also been named to return.
Which version of the Roosters are we getting this week? At their best, this is a Top 4 team and smokey for the NRL premiership. However, they’ve not been at their best often enough to believe that at the moment. The combination between Sam Walker and Luke Keary still needs a lot of work. Although, the return of James Tedesco would help that and the Roosters overall this week. Meanwhile, the Storm always seem to get through this Origin-affected period relatively unscathed. They’ve slowed down slightly following a hot start to the season but are still one of the best-attacking sides in the competition. It’s an area the Roosters are inconsistent at the moment and they’ll struggle to keep up with the visitors if they go behind early. We’re still waiting for the Roosters to produce one of those games that acts as their announcement to the premiership race. It’s unlikely to be this week against a rested and ready Storm outfit.
|Te Maire Martin||1||Xavier Savage|
|Corey Oates||2||Nick Cotric|
|Kotoni Staggs||3||Matthew Timoko|
|Herbie Farnworth||4||Sebastian Kris|
|Selwyn Cobbo||5||James Schiller|
|Ezra Mam||6||Jack Wighton|
|Adam Reynolds||7||Jamal Fogarty|
|Corey Jensen||8||Josh Papalii|
|Billy Walters||9||Zac Woolford|
|Payne Haas||10||Joseph Tapine|
|TC Robati||11||Hudson Young|
|Jordan Riki||12||Elliott Whitehead|
|Patrick Carrigan||13||Adam Elliott|
|Cory Paix||14||Tom Starling|
|Kobe Hetherington||15||Ryan Sutton|
|Thomas Flegler||16||Corey Harawira-Naera|
|Keenan Palasia||17||Corey Horsburgh|
History: Played 36, Broncos 20, Raiders 15
Last Meeting: Round 14, 2021: Raiders 38 def. Broncos 16
Final Thoughts: The Brisbane Broncos continued their impressive 2022 NRL season with a 35-24 comeback win over the Titans in Round 12. The Canberra Raiders have also impressed of late and continued to get their campaign on track with a 22-16 upset against the Roosters last week.
Adam Reynolds is back for the Broncos. Notably, Ezra Mam keeps his place in the side, moving to five-eighth with Tyson Gamble out due to injury. Kurt Capewell will be rested with TC Robati slotting into the edge while Kevin Walters’ four other Origin reps have been named. Meanwhile, the Raiders have lost Jordan Rapana to suspension but do welcome back Corey Harawira-Naera for this one.
The Broncos extended the winning streak without Reynolds but his return does trigger another change in the halves. That lack of cohesion could be an issue early on in this one given how well the Raiders have played in recent weeks. The Green Machine is crashing the middle and putting the opposition under pressure through offloads and second-phase. Once the middle is scattered, they look wide. Mam is sure to be a target in defence this week. Losing Kotoni Staggs will have an impact too. He has been excellent defending the edges and the Broncos’ right edge becomes vulnerable without him. Particularly if Jack Wighton backs up from Wednesday night. While the Broncos are on the up and playing at home, they’re dealing with a couple of disruptions. The Raiders, on the other hand, have improved their teamlist on last week and will give this game a shake if Josh Papalii also plays. It depends on who is named an hour before kickoff, but the Raiders look good for an upset here.
|Daine Laurie||1||Reuben Garrick|
|David Nofoaluma||2||Jason Saab|
|Starford To’a||3||Morgan Harper|
|Brent Naden||4||Tolutau Koula|
|Ken Maumalo||5||Christian Tuipulotu|
|Luke Brooks||6||Kieran Foran|
|Jackson Hastings||7||Daly Cherry-Evans|
|James Tamou||8||Josh Aloiai|
|Jacob Liddle||9||Lachlan Croker|
|Zane Musgrove||10||Toafofoa Sipley|
|Luke Garner||11||Haumole Olakau’atu|
|Luciano Leilua||12||Andrew Davey|
|Joe Ofahengaue||13||Jake Trbojevic|
|Jock Madden||14||Dylan Walker|
|Alex Twal||15||Josh Schuster|
|Kelma Tuilagi||16||Martin Taupau|
|Alex Seyfarth||17||Sean Keppie|
History: Played 33, Tigers 14, Sea Eagles 19
Last Meeting: Round 9, 2022: Sea Eagles 36 def. Tigers 22
Final Thoughts: The Wests Tigers have had the bye week to think about their 44-18 loss to the Rabbitohs but won’t have Michael Maguire coming out of it after he was finally sacked on Tuesday. Desperate to respond to a loss to the Storm a week earlier, the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles thrashed the Warriors 44-12 in Round 13.
Interim Tigers coach Brett Kimmorley hasn’t made any big changes to the side this week. David Nofoaluma and Jacob Liddle both return from injury in the starting 13. The Sea Eagles will wait to hear how Daly Cherry-Evans pulls up from Origin I, but at this stage, he will start with Josh Schuster falling back to the bench.
Just as we saw a few weeks ago with the Bulldogs, the “new coach bounce” is a myth and can’t be relied upon. In reality, the same, fairly poor, Tigers team takes to the field this week against a Sea Eagles side that hit form last week. Jackson Hastings is still ordering the Tigers around the field but opposition teams are better prepared for his dominance. The return of Adam Doueihi will help there, but it isn’t coming this week. The Sea Eagles do their best work down the edges. Jake Trbojevic links up with his halves to swing the ball wide and the Manly outside backs work hard in yardage and in good ball. Meanwhile, the Tigers edge defence is amongst the worst in the NRL. Their left edge, in particular, leaks points every week. With what the Sea Eagles have to offer out wide and the dominance Haumole Olakau’atu has displayed on the right edge in recent weeks, that avenue for points should secure the win.
|Kalyn Ponga||1||Dylan Edwards|
|Edrick Lee||2||Taylan May|
|Dane Gagai||3||Izack Tago|
|Enari Tuala||4||Stephen Crichton|
|Dominic Young||5||Brian To’o|
|Anthony Milford||6||Jarome Luai|
|Jake Clifford||7||Nathan Cleary|
|David Klemmer||8||Moses Leota|
|Chris Randall||9||Apisai Koroisau|
|Jacob Saifiti||10||James Fisher-Harris|
|Tyson Frizell||11||Viliame Kikau|
|Lachlan Fitzgibbon||12||Liam Martin|
|Mitch Barnett||13||Isaah Yeo|
|Kurt Mann||14||Mitch Kenny|
|Simi Sasagi||15||Scott Sorensen|
|Leo Thompson||16||Matthew Eisenhuth|
|Mat Croker||17||Jaeman Salmon|
History: Played 38, Knights 19, Panthers 17
Last Meeting: Round 3, 2022: Panthers 38 def. Knights 20
Final Thoughts: The Newcastle Knights picked up a much-needed 24-16 win over the Warriors before the bye. Meanwhile, despite being without so many State of Origin stars, the Penrith Panthers looked comfortable throughout their 30-18 win over the Bulldogs.
Kurt Mann is back for the Knights this week but they do lose Daniel Saifiti to injury. Kalyn Ponga and Dane Gagai have been named to back up from Origin I. So too have the Panthers Blues stars. Spencer Leniu being replaced by Matt Eisenhuth is the only notable change.
A lot depends on the final teams named in this one. The Panthers have proven capable of winning without their Origin stars. It all looked too easy for them against the Bulldogs in Round 13 and that should play a part in Ivan Cleary’s thinking. It won’t be a surprise to see him more willing to rest his Blues representatives. However, should they all be named to back up, it’s difficult to see the Knights keeping this one close. Their attack isn’t up to scratch and can’t keep up with a flying Panthers. Newcastle will be relying on their defence to keep it close but have struggled in that department all year, too. Injuries to the middle won’t help their chances either. The Panthers will be favourites regardless given their systems in place and the ease in which backups can slot in relatively seamlessly.
|Reece Walsh||1||William Kennedy|
|Dallin Watene-Zelezniak||2||Sione Katoa|
|Rocco Berry||3||Jesse Ramien|
|Adam Pompey||4||Siosifa Talakai|
|Marcelo Montoya||5||Ronaldo Mulitalo|
|Chanel Harris-Tavita||6||Matt Moylan|
|Shaun Johnson||7||Nicho Hynes|
|Ben Murdoch-Masila||8||Toby Rudolf|
|Wayde Egan||9||Blayke Brailey|
|Jazz Tevaga||10||Royce Hunt|
|Euan Aitken||11||Briton Nikora|
|Tohu Harris||12||Teig Wilton|
|Jack Murchie||13||Cameron McInnes|
|Josh Curran||14||Aiden Tolman|
|Bunty Afoa||15||Braydon Trindall|
|Dunamis Lui||16||Thomas Hazelton|
History: Played 41, Warriors 16, Sharks 25
Last Meeting: Round 9, 2022: Sharks 29 def. Warriors 10
Final Thoughts: Yet another loss for the New Zealand Warriors effectively cost Nathan Brown his job. He parted ways with the club after being hammered 44-12 by a depleted Sea Eagles side last week. Meanwhile, the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks will have spent their week off going over what went wrong in their 36-16 loss to the Roosters.
Stacey Jones isn’t ruffling too many feathers with his first Warriors team list. Josh Curran returns while Dunamis Lui is back onto the bench. The Sharks are welcoming back Jesse Ramien as the only change to their Round 12 side.
The Warriors played like a side that didn’t want their coach around last week. As a result, Brown has been moved on. It’s unlikely to translate into wins anytime soon, but expect the playing group to at least show a little more effort after a dire performance in Round 13. Curran’s return helps and the Warriors will look better when Tohu Harris makes his inevitable move into the middle where he can control the centre-third. Meanwhile, the Sharks have started to stumble following a hot start to the season. Their attack isn’t quite so threatening as the defence learns to scramble in cover. They have the players in Briton Nikora and Teig Wilton on the edges to change angles so expect to see an improvement there sooner rather than later. Given the issue the Warriors have in defence out wide, those change of angles can cause havoc in this one. It’s difficult to measure the impact of Brown’s departure until seeing the response. Regardless, the Sharks are sending out the superior 17 and have the runs on the board this season.
|Jake Averillo||1||Clinton Gutherson|
|Jacob Kiraz||2||Maika Sivo|
|Aaron Schoupp||3||Will Penisini|
|Corey Allan||4||Waqa Blake|
|Josh Addo-Carr||5||Bailey Simonsson|
|Matt Burton||6||Dylan Brown|
|Kyle Flanagan||7||Mitchell Moses|
|Ava Seumanufagai||8||Reagan Campbell-Gillard|
|Jeremy Marshall-King||9||Reed Mahoney|
|Paul Vaughan||10||Junior Paulo|
|Josh Jackson||11||Shaun Lane|
|Raymond Faitala-Mariner||12||Marata Niukore|
|Max King||13||Isaiah Papali’i|
|Zach Dockar-Clay||14||Makahesi Makatoa|
|Corey Waddell||15||Ryan Matterson|
|Joe Stimson||16||Oregon Kaufusi|
|Chris Patolo||17||Nathan Brown|
History: Played 47, Bulldogs 22, Eels 24
Last Meeting: Round 15, 2021: Eels 36 def. Bulldogs 10
Final Thoughts: The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs looked improved in some areas but ultimately couldn’t keep up with the Panthers throughout their 30-18 loss. The Parramatta Eels, on the other hand, are coming into this one off a 28-20 win over the Raiders two weeks ago.
The Bulldogs are running out as they did last week but all eyes are on Tevita Pangai Jr. in the reserves list as he looks to make his return to the field. Maika Sivo is back for the Eels for his first game of the 2022 NRL season. Waqa Blake moves to the centres and Tom Opacic out of the side.
It doesn’t show on the scoreboard but the Bulldogs looked like a slightly better team last week. They still rely on Matt Burton and Josh Addo-Carr too heavily in attack, but unlike previous weeks, the pair were able to produce a few points against a strong Panthers defence. Jake Averillo displayed a couple of nice touches at fullback and will be better for the run too. However, the Eels continue to fly under the radar as one of the best teams in the NRL. They’ll have most of their State of Origin players available and welcome back Sivo for this one too. Parramatta’s biggest issue this year has come in defence. It has cost them at times throughout the year while their attack has gone a long way to covering up the deficiencies without the ball. Against the worst attacking team in the NRL, it’s safe to assume their defensive frailties aren’t so much of an issue in this one. The Bulldogs are on the up and improving, but not enough to keep this one close across the full 80 minutes.