HomeBreaking NewsEarly Mail: Souths backflip on bizarre bench tactic

Early Mail: Souths backflip on bizarre bench tactic

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Rabbitohs coach Jason Demetriou confirmed Murray would start, having begun last week’s loss to Melbourne off the interchange bench.Souths hooker Damien Cook has also confirmed he is ready to go after finishing the loss to the Storm on the sidelines with a shin problem.It wasn’t all good news for Souths on Tuesday morning – utility Blake Taaffe is out of contention for the Roosters game and may not return until round five due to an ankle problem.Murray surprisingly started off the interchange bench against the Storm in what was both a tactical move and a plan to preserve him after a disrupted pre-season.Stream every game of every round of the 2022 NRL Telstra Premiership Season Live & Ad-Break Free In Play on Kayo. New to Kayo? Try 14-days free now.However, Demetriou wants his skipper in the thick of it on Friday night as the sides prepare to meet for the first time since the infamous game last year when Latrell Mitchell broke the cheekbone of Roosters centre and former teammate Joey Manu.Murray made it clear on Tuesday morning that he wanted to start against the Roosters. “There was obviously part of our game plan going down there (to Melbourne), he (Demetriou) wanted to take that 10 minute sting out of the game a little bit for me,” Murray said.“Coming back from a reduced pre-season due to the shoulder, he thought it might be good to take that sting out and obviously build my match fitness up.“It is one less change too – instead of taking me off and then bringing me back on. I thought it went well for us and we went close. But we will focus on the Roosters now.“You want to lead the boys out as captain – that is what you want to do.” CHEAPIE THE WINNER IN RAIDERS RESHUFFLE Rookie Brad Schneider will be rushed back into the Raiders starting line-up after returning to training on Tuesday having recovered from Covid-19.Schneider played in round one before being ruled out of their round two loss against the Cowboys. Matt Frawley started at halfback last week but will make way for 21-year-old Schneider.Centre James Schiller, a popular KFC SuperCoach pick, is expected to be left out. Hooker Josh Hodgson (ACL) has been ruled out for the season.TRINDALL BACK TO ADD POTENCY TO SHARKSCraig Fitzgibbon is poised to add more potency to his line-up by welcoming back Indigenous All Stars playmaker Braydon Trindall.Trindall had been unavailable for the opening two rounds of the season due to a high tackle suspension from the club’s pre-season trials. It’s expected that Trindall will be named on Cronulla’s bench to face St George-Illawarra on Thursday night at WIN Stadium.Capable of playing in the halves, at hooker or at lock, Trindall also adds another kicking game to the Sharks attack. Meanwhile, Siosifa Talakai is expected to replace the suspended Teig Wilton in the backrow. HASTINGS FACES BANWests Tigers playmaker Jackson Hastings is facing a ban of up to three matches for a dangerous throw on Newcastle’s Tex Hoy.Hastings was charged for the tackle in the first half of the Tigers’ loss to Newcastle on Sunday. He will cop a two-match ban if he takes the early guilty plea and three matches if he fights and loses at the judiciary.Jock Madden is the man most likely to take over from Hastings at five-eighth for Friday’s clash with the Warriors in Campbelltown. DRAGONS OUT TO REPLACE McCULLOUGHMoses Mbye is tipped to start at hooker for St George Illawarra in Thursday night’s clash against Cronulla to replace the injured Andrew McCullough.Meanwhile, veteran prop Aaron Woods is racing the clock and given some chance but unlikely to play.Woods missed the round two game against Penrith with a hamstring strain.Although he has been back running for five days, the Dragons’ medical staff are more likely to play it safe and let Woods have another week to recover.Mbye is the only expected change to the starting side from last round at dummy half with Jack Gosiewski expected back on the bench after dropping off last week to make way for Tariq Sims’ return.The Dragons had some good news with scans clearing McCullough of an elbow fracture so he could even be back in round four to play Parramatta.Sign up to NRL SuperCoach 2022TRIPLE BOOST FOR BANGED UP ROOSTERSSydney Roosters utility Connor Watson is confident a shoulder injury won’t rule him out for this Friday’s blockbuster against arch rivals South Sydney. Waston confirmed to News Corp that his right shoulder was ‘subluxed’ last weekend when taking on Manly. But the shoulder was immediately put back into place and is only causing minor discomfort. Watson said he ‘should be sweet’ to take on the Rabbitohs if the pain continued to improve during the week. Fellow utility Drew Hutchison has backed Watson to take the field.“He’s pretty good. It’s the pyshios and the medical department, it’s pretty amazing how they get blokes right for games. He was pretty confident after the game he would be right to play this week. I think they are going to give him as much time as possible to get it right. I think he’ll be playing this week,” Hutchison said. Centre Joey Manu picked up a minor knee injury against the Sea Eagles but trained on Sunday and again on Monday.“Through the game it looked sore but he pulled up really well. I dare say he’ll be right this week,” Hutchison said.The biggest question mark remains destructive backrower Sitili Tupouniua, who is recovering from concussion but progressing well through HIA return to play protocols. “He trained yesterday and part of the first step about getting [back onto the field] is training, he’s firming to play this week,” Hutchison said. DRAGONS v SHARKSThursday, 8.05pm, WIN Stadium, WollongongDragons: With hooking stocks at a minimum, the Dragons will be very relieved to see Andrew McCullough cleared of a serious injury.While an outside chance of facing the Sharks in the local derby, he’s expected to miss just one to three weeks of action.Expect Moses Mbye to fill the role while McCullough is out.George Burgess will escape with a fine following his dangerous contact charge and will take his place, provided Aaron Woods doesn’t return from a minor hamstring niggle.Sharks: Teig Wilton copped a one match ban for his dangerous contact on Mitchell Moses.With back-row stocks hampered, Siosifa Talakai will likely start in his place.Ronaldo Mulitalo failed a HIA test against the Eels and will have to overcome concussion protocol on a tough five day turnaround.If unavailable, Matt Ikuvalu would earn a recall on the wing.Braydon Trindall returns from suspension and is expected to be named at number 14.Jack Williams is nearing a return from off-season surgery but is expected to miss another week.TIGERS v WARRIORSFriday, 6pm, Campbelltown Sports Stadium, SydneyTigers: Jackson Hastings is in trouble over a lifting tackle in the loss to the Knights.He faces two weeks on the sidelines, or three if he fights the charge and is found guilty.Jock Madden would likely play his first game of the season alongside Luke Brooks, who would also regain the goalkicking duties.Jacob Liddle was named on the extended bench last week as he nears a return from injury.He’s a strong chance to come into the starting side in place of Jake Simpkin.Warriors: Enforcer Addin Fonua-Blake suffered a late hand injury in the loss to the Titans, with no strong word on the extent of the injury, if any.RABBITOHS v ROOSTERSFriday, 8.05pm, Accor Stadium, SydneyRabbitohs: Blake Taaffe will be pushing to return from an ankle sprain, but is likely to be given one more week.If available, he’d join the bench as a utility.Liam Knight returned from injury in NSW Cup in Round 2, he’ll likely return on the bench for South Sydney this week.Roosters: Sitili Tupouniua must overcome concussion protocol to take his part in the game.If unavailable, two try star Nat Butcher is expected to slot in on the edge.Joey Manu sent a scare through the club with a knee injury, fortunately he’s been cleared of serious injury and is expected to face old rivals South Sydney.Connor Watson suffered a shoulder injury in the win over Manly, coach Trent Robinson said he could have returned to action if required.While in some doubt, he’s expected to take his part and again play from the bench with Drew Hutchinson starting at hooker.Joseph Suaalii is tipped to return this week in NSW Cup and will stake his claim for an NRL berth in his first game of the year if given the clearance.PANTHERS v KNIGHTSSaturday, 3pm, Carrington Park, BathurstPanthers: Brian To’o suffered a knee injury in the narrow win over the Dragons and will miss six to eight weeks of play.This will open a wing spot for KFC SuperCoach cheapies Robert Jennings or Taylan May to be given an extended run in the side.A powerful ballrunner not too dissimilar to To’o, May could be a like-for-like replacement, while Jennings was preferred during the pre-season.James Fisher-Harris suffered a shoulder injury and is expected to spend some time on the sidelines.This adds to the club’s front-row depletion having lost Moses Leota the week prior.Spencer Leniu is likely to join Matt Eisenhuth in the starting side.Nathan Cleary will be a close watch this week having been tipped for a Round 4 return by the club.Knights: Changes are expected at the undefeated Knights with Kalyn Ponga and David Klemmer tipped to return from knee niggles after being late scratchings against the Tigers.Ponga would be a straight swap for Tex Hoy, while Klemmer is expected to re-join Origin rep Daniel Saifiti in coming back into the 17.Lachlan Fitzgibbon suffered a knee injury and will miss games. Mitchell Barnett is likely to start on the edge, however pre-season star Jirah Momoisea is also a chance at starting should they opt to keep Barnett in the middle.Bench utility Brodie Jones is nearing a return from injury, but may find it hard to crack a spot on the bench due to the club’s unbeaten start to the season.STORM v EELSSaturday, 5.30pm, AAMI Park, MelbourneStorm: No changes are expected at the Storm. It was interesting to see Xavier Coates shifted to the right wing in Round 2 due to the call up of Dean Ieremia.Eels: No major changes expected, Marata Niukore is likely to return for his first game of the season off the bench after being a late scratching on the weekend.RAIDERS v TITANSSaturday, 7.35pm, GIO Stadium, CanberraRaiders: After missing the trip to Townsville with COVID, Brad Schneider will replace Matt Frawley in the halves if he passes all required protocols.Jordan Rapana returns from suspension, while Nick Cotric is pushing to return after being a late withdrawal on the weekend with a quad strain.If Schneider isn’t available, Rapana will kick goals.This will see James Schiller and Seb Kris drop out of the team provided Cotric is given the green light.Josh Hodgson is out for the season, meaning Tom Starling will start at hooker.Titans: Corey Thompson is nearing a return from a broken hand, and while he’s expected to miss another week, he could return in place of Greg Marzhew on the wing.BRONCOS v COWBOYSSunday, 4.05pm, Suncorp Stadium, BrisbaneBroncos: No changes expected at the Broncos following an unbeaten start to the season.Cowboys: Mitchell Dunn suffered a suspected ACL injury and could be set for an extended stint on the sidelines.Returning from injury, Reuben Cotter would likely replace him on the bench.Tom Gilbert received a fine for his crusher tackle on Semi Valemei. Jamayne Taunoa-Brown will be pushing to return from injury, if available it’d likely be at the expense of Griffin Neame.Sign up to NRL SuperCoach 2022SEA EAGLES v BULLDOGSSunday, 6.15pm, 4 Pines Park, SydneySea Eagles: Dylan Walker suffered a head knock in the loss to the Roosters, but with an extended nine day turnaround he should be cleared to face the Bulldogs.If unavailable, Tolutau Koula would take his place on the bench.While no major changes are expected, Des Hasler will be tempted to start Andrew Davey or Karl Lawton on the edge for Ethan Bullemor who played just 32 minutes in Round 2.Bulldogs: Tevita Pangai Jnr was placed on report just two minutes into his club debut.He’ll await news of any potential charges on Monday morning.No other changes are expected following a strong start to the season with a new-look roster.

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