Big names return with Fish and Munster in, Knights swing axe again, Tigers pick another teenager by StuffsEarth

Estimated read time 45 min read

Some of the NRL’s biggest names are back on deck for Round 5, with some coaches welcoming back players after injury and others ringing the changes following indifferent starts.

James Fisher-Harris is the headline for the Panthers as they travel to an unchanged Manly, with the reigning Golden Boot able to suit up for the first time since Round 2 against Parramatta.

Melbourne’s hopes of bringing down the Broncos on Thursday have received a huge boost with six players back on deck for the Round 5 clash at AAMI Park, headlined by their star halves duo.

Jahrome Hughes will return after serving his one-game ban for bumping a referee while fellow playmaker Cameron Munster makes his first appearance for 2024.

Brisbane are still without Payne Haas but will debut an even bigger star, with 205cm prop Ben Te Kura getting the nod off the bench.

The Wests Tigers will continue their policy of blooding young players by replacing breakout star Lachlan Galvin with another 18-year-old half, Latu Fainu.

Galvin copped a ban of two matches for a hip-drop tackle in Monday’s win over Parramatta, opening the door for off-season recruit Fainu – who has already represented Tonga – to make an NRL debut along brother Samuela.

Jayden Sullivan is elevated to the starting role with coach Benji Marshall opting to use his latest teenager from the interchange.

They face the Dolphins, who lost Max Plath, also for two games due to a hip-drop, and elevate Kenny Bromwich in his place.

Melbourne Storm


Brisbane Broncos

NRL : Head To Head

Thu, 4 Apr 2024, 20:00

Canterbury Bulldogs


Sydney Roosters

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NRL : Head To Head

Fri, 5 Apr 2024, 18:00

Newcastle Knights


St. George Illawarra Dragons

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NRL : Head To Head

Fri, 5 Apr 2024, 20:00

South Sydney Rabbitohs


New Zealand Warriors

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NRL : Head To Head

Sat, 6 Apr 2024, 15:00

Manly Sea Eagles


Penrith Panthers

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NRL : Head To Head

Sat, 6 Apr 2024, 17:30

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NRL : Head To Head

Sat, 6 Apr 2024, 19:35

North Queensland Cowboys


Gold Coast Titans

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NRL : Head To Head

Sun, 7 Apr 2024, 16:05

Canberra Raiders


Parramatta Eels

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NRL : Head To Head

Sun, 7 Apr 2024, 18:15

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Rabbitohs winger Alex Johnston is out for as much as six weeks, according to a Sydney Morning Herald report, after tearing his hamstring and is replaced by Iszac Thompson on the wing for the Bunnies for their clash with the Warriors.

Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad is a huge in for the Wahs, making his first appearance of the year. Te Maire Martin will also come in to replace the injured Luke Metcalf, who broke his leg in the weekend’s win over Newcastle.

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck returns to the centre to allow CNK back to number 1. Metcalf is a long-term casualty after breaking the tibia in his right leg while being tackled in the ninth minute of the match. The 25-year-old has undergone surgery and won’t return until late in the season.

The Knights will face a resurgent Dragons with a new look halves pairing, their third of the year, with halfback Jackson Hastings returned to the starting side in place of Tyson Gamble, who has been dropped. Jack Cogger shifts to 6 to fit Hastings in at 7.

The Bulldogs give a debut to Kitione Kautoga off the bench with Josh Curran coming into the starting side in place of the injured Jacob Preston.

They face a Roosters side that has resisted overhauling their team following last week’s battering by Penrith. They return Lindsay Collins to the front row from injury, which bumps Terrell May back to the bench and Egan Butcher out of the side.

The Cowboys are unchanged for their home match with the Titans, who swap both wingers, bringing in Jojo Fifita and Harley Smith-Shields for Philip Sami, injured by Plath’s hip-drop, and Lofi Khan-Pereira, who is not named.

David Fifita is listed on the bench as he makes his way back from injury and Josiah Pahulu gets an NRL debut in place of Isaac Liu, who is ruled out under concussion protocols.

Parramatta have stuck with the 17 that lost to the Tigers save for Bailey Simonsson‘s return from injury in the centres. Morgan Harper drops out.

They face Canberra, who make just one change: Zac Hosking suffered a head knock and is out, Ata Mariota starts and Simi Sasagi will make a club debut from the bench.

Round 4 teams

Melbourne vs Brisbane at AAMI Park: 8pm, Thursday April 4

Odds: Storm $1.53 Broncos $2.50 – odds via PlayUp

Storm: 1. Ryan Papenhuyzen 2. William Warbrick 3. Reimis Smith 4. Nick Meaney 5. Xavier Coates 6. Cameron Munster 7. Jahrome Hughes 8. Tui Kamikamica 9. Harry Grant 10. Josh King 11. Shawn Blore 12. Eliesa Katoa 13. Trent Loiero 14. Tyran Wishart 15. Christian Welch 16. Tepai Moeroa 17. Alec MacDonald 18. Chris Lewis 19. Jack Howarth 20. Marion Seve 21. Jonah Pezet 22. Aaron Pene

Cameron Munster is the big in, Christian Welch returns from concussion and Shawn Blore gets a club debut.

Broncos: 1. Tristan Sailor 2. Jesse Arthars 3. Kotoni Staggs 4. Selwyn Cobbo 5. Deine Mariner 6. Ezra Mam 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Corey Jensen 9. Billy Walters 10. Fletcher Baker 11. Jaiyden Hunt 12. Jordan Riki 13. Patrick Carrigan 14. Tyson Smoothy 15. Benjamin Te Kura 16. Kobe Hetherington 17. Corey Oates 18. Martin Taupau 19. Jock Madden 20. Delouise Hoeter 21. Jordan Pereira 22. Blake Mozer

Payne Haas (knee), Reece Walsh (cheekbone) and Brendan Piakura (ankle) are still out for at least three more weeks, Ben Te Kura makes a debut from the bench.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 07: Jacob Preston of the Bulldogs looks dejected after losing the round five NRL match between Canterbury Bulldogs and North Queensland Cowboys at Accor Stadium on April 07, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
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Jacob Preston. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Canterbury vs Sydney at Accor Stadium: 6pm, Friday April 5

Odds: Bulldogs $3.30 Roosters $1.33 – odds via PlayUp

Bulldogs: 1. Blake Taaffe 2. Blake Wilson 3. Jacob Kiraz 4. Stephen Crichton 5. Connor Tracey 6. Matt Burton 7. Drew Hutchison 8. Max King 9. Reed Mahoney 10. Samuel Hughes 11. Viliame Kikau 12. Josh Curran 13. Jaeman Salmon 14. Kurt Mann 15. Harrison Edwards 16. Liam Knight 17. Kitione Kautoga 19. Bronson Xerri 20. Toby Sexton 21. Bailey Howard 22. Chris Patolo 23. Poasa Faamausili

Josh Addo-Carr (concussion) is out so Blake Wilson regains a wing spot. Second-rower Jacob Preston (jaw) will be unavailable until mid May.

Roosters: 1. James Tedesco 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii 4. Joseph Manu 5. Dominic Young 6. Luke Keary 7. Sam Walker 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9. Brandon Smith 10. Lindsay Collins 11. Nat Butcher 12. Angus Crichton 13. Victor Radley 14. Connor Watson 15. Naufahu Whyte 16. Sitili Tupouniua 17. Terrell May 18. Michael Jennings 19. Egan Butcher 20. Fetalaiga Pauga 21. Zach Dockar-Clay 22. Siua Wong

Nat Butcher was charged with a careless high tackle from Thursday night’s loss to Penrith but is free to pay after copping a fine of $1000. Fellow forward Lindsay Collins makes an early comeback from a hamstring strain.

Newcastle vs St George Illawarra at McDonald Jones Stadium: 8pm, Friday April 5

Odds: Knights $1.48 Dragons $2.65 – odds via PlayUp

Knights: 1. Kalyn Ponga, 2. Thomas Jenkins 3. Dane Gagai 4. Bradman Best 5. Enari Tuala 6. Jack Cogger 7. Jackson Hastings 8. Jacob Saifiti 9. Jayden Brailey 10. Leo Thompson 11. Tyson Frizell 12 Kai Pearce-Paul 13. Adam Elliott 14. Phoenix Crossland 15. Daniel Saifiti 16. Jack Hetherington 17. Mat Croker 18. Dylan Lucas 19. Jed Cartwright 20. Brodie Jones 21. Tyson Gamble 22. Thomas Cant

Kiwi prop Leo Thompson will return from a one-game ban and Dane Gagai is back from his undisclosed medical condition. Tyson Gamble has been dropped for Jackson Hastings with Jack Cogger sliding over to five-eighth.

Dragons: 1. Tyrell Sloan 2. Zac Lomax 3. Moses Suli 4. Jack Bird 5. Mikaele Ravalawa 6. Kyle Flanagan 7. Ben Hunt 8. Francis Molo 9. Jacob Liddle 10. Jack de Belin 11. Luciano Leilua 12. Jaydn Su’A 13. Tom Eisenhuth 14. Jesse Marschke 15. Blake Lawrie 16. Michael Molo 17. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 18. Hame Sele 19. Christian Tuipulotu 20. Viliami Fifita 21. Toby Couchman 22. Ben Murdoch-Masila

Shane Flanagan makes just one change, swapping Hame Sele and Michael Molo.

South Sydney vs Warriors at Accor Stadium: 3pm, Saturday April 6

Odds: Rabbitohs $2.05 Warriors $1.77 – odds via PlayUp

Rabbitohs: 1. Latrell Mitchell, 2. Izaac Tu’itupou Thompson, 3.Jack Wighton, 4. Isaiah Tass, 5. Taane Milne, 6. Cody Walker, 7. Dean Hawkins, 8. Tevita Tatola, 9. Damien Cook, 10.Thomas Burgess, 11. Keaon Koloamatangi, 12. Jacob Host, 13. Cameron Murray 14. Michael Chee Kam, 15. Tallis Duncan, 16.Sean Keppie, 17. Davvy Moale 18. Peter Mamouzelos, 19. Lachlan Ilias, 20. Richard Kennar, 21. Jye Gray 22. Jacob Gagai

Veteran winger Alex Johnston suffered a hamstring injury in the win over Canterbury and won’t be sighted until May while Shaquille Mitchell (concussion) is out. Izaac Tu’itupou Thompson comes in for Johnston on the left flank.

Warriors: 1. Charnze Nicoll-Klkstad 2. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 3. Rocco Berry 4. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 5. Marcelo Montoya 6. Te Maire Martin 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Addin Fonua-Blake 9. Wayde Egan 10. Mitchell Barnett 11. Jackson Ford 12. Marata Niukore 13. Tohu Harris 14. Freddy Lussick 15. Tom Ale 16. Bunty Afoa 17. Jazz Tevaga 18. Adam Pompey 19. Jacob Laban 21. Chanel Harris-Tevita 22. Edward Kosi 23. Ali Leiataua

Dylan Walker is still out but Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad is a huge in. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck returns to the centre to allow CNK back to number 1. Luke Metcalf is a long-term casualty after breaking the tibia in his right leg while being tackled by Knights second rower Tyson Frizell in the ninth minute of a match the Warriors went on to win 20-12. The 25-year-old has undergone surgery and won’t return until late in the season.

Manly vs Penrith at 4 Pines Park: 5.30pm, Saturday April 6

Odds: Sea Eagles $2.25 Panthers $1.65 – odds via PlayUp

Sea Eagles: 1. Tom Trbojevic 2. Tommy Talau 3. Tolutau Koula 4. Reuben Garrick 5. Jaxson Paulo 6. Luke Brooks 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Taniela Paseka 9. Lachlan Croker 10. Josh Aloiai 11. Haumole Olakau’atu 12. Ben Trbojevic 13. Jake Trbojevic 14. Karl Lawton 15. Corey Waddell 16. Toafofoa Sipley 17. Nathan Brown 18. Ethan Bullemor 19. Jake Arthur 20. Aaron Woods 21. Raymond Tuaimalo Vaega 22. Gordon Chan Kum Tong

Matt Lodge is closing in on a return from his knee injury while Josh Schuster looks set to stay in the NSW Cup for at least another week as he works his way back to full fitness after a disrupted pre-season. Ray Vaega is named in the extended bench with Tommy Talau set to start, as happened last week.

Panthers: 1. Dylan Edwards 2. Sunia Turuva 3. Izack Tago 4. Taylan May 5. Brian To’o 6. Jarome Luai 7. Brad Schneider 8. Moses Leota 9. Mitch Kenny 10. James Fisher-Harris 11. Luke Garner 12. Liam Martin 13. Isaah Yeo 14. Daine Laurie 15. Lindsay Smith 16. Liam Henry 17. Matt Eisenhuth 18. Soni Luke 19. Paul Alamoti 20. Mavrik Geyer 21. Jack Cole 22. Tyrone PeacheyKiwi prop James Fisher-Harris is back from his shoulder problem but second-rower Scott Sorensen fails to overcome his knee injury. Mav Geyer goes back to the reserves with Daine Laurie coming onto the bench.

Dolphins vs Wests at Suncorp Stadium: 7.35pm, Saturday April 6

Odds: Dolphins $1.65 Tigers $2.25 – odds via PlayUp

Dolphins: 1. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow 2. Jamayne Isaako 3. Jake Averillo 4. Herbie Farnworth 5. Jack Bostock 6. Kodi Nikorima 7. Isaiya Katoa 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Jeremy Marshall-King 10. Thomas Flegler 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Euan Aitken 13. Ray Stone 14. Josh Kerr 15. Kurt Donoghoe 16. Mark Nicholls 17. Kenneath Bromwich 18. Oryn Keeley 19. Sean O’Sullivan 20. Jarrod Wallace 21. Tesi Niu 22. Mason Teague

Ray Stone will start ahead of the suspended Max Plath. Jarrod Wallace and Sean O’Sullivan remain in the reserves.

Tigers: 1. Jahream Bula 2. Charlie Staines 3. Solomona Faataape 4. Justin Olam 5. Junior Tupou 6. Jayden Sullivan 7. Aidan Sezer 8. Stefano Utoikamanu 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. David Klemmer 11. Isaiah Papali’i 12. John Bateman 13. Fonua Pole 14. Latu Fainu 15. Alex Seyfarth 16. Alex Twal 17. Samuela Fainu 18. Brent Naden 19. Asu Kepaoa 20. Justin Matamua 21. Solomon Alaimalo 22. Jake Simpkin

Front-rower Alex Twal is back on the bench with Asu Kepaoa, who wasn’t used in the win over Parramatta, dropping out.

Cowboys vs Gold Coast at QCB Stadium: 4.05pm, Sunday April 7

Odds: Cowboys $1.15 Titans $5.50 – odds via PlayUp

Cowboys: 1. Scott Drinkwater 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Valentine Holmes 4. Zac Laybutt 5. Murray Taulagi 6. Tom Dearden 7. Chad Townsend 8. Jordan McLean 9. Reece Robson 10. Jason Taumalolo 11. Kulikefu Finefeuiaki 12. Jeremiah Nanai 13. Reuben Cotter 14. Jake Granville 15. Griffin Neame 16. Sam McIntyre 17. Jack Gosiewski 18. Tom Chester 19. Thomas Mikaele 20. Semi Valemei 21. Marly Bitungane 22. Jake Clifford

With Heilum Luki (ankle), Jamayne Taunoa-Brown (Achilles) and Coen Hess (knee) sidelined long term, Todd Payten is forced to stick with the side that was defeated by Brisbane on Good Friday.

Titans: 1. Jayden Campbell 2. Harley Smith-Shields 3. Brian Kelly 4. AJ Brimson 5. Jojo Fifita 6. Kieran Foran 7. Tanah Boyd 8. Moeaki Fotuaika 9. Chris Randall 10. Jaimin Jolliffe 11. Klese Haas 12. Beau Fermor 13. Erin Clark 14. Sam Verrills 15. David Fifita 16. Joe Stimson 17. Josiah Pahulu 18. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui 19. Tony Francis 20. Thomas Weaver 21. Alofiana Khan-Pereira 22. Jacob Alick

Front-rower Keenan Palasia is still out so Josiah Pahulu debuts, with Des Hasler responding to his side’s latest defeat by swapping both of his wingers. 

Elliott Whitehead Raiders
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Elliott Whitehead. (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

Canberra vs Parramatta at GIO Stadium: 6.15pm, Sunday April 7 

Odds: Raiders $1.72 Eels $2.10 – odds via PlayUp

Raiders: 1. Jordan Rapana 2. James Schiller 3. Matthew Timoko 4. Sebastian Kris 5. Xavier Savage 6. Ethan Strange 7. Jamal Fogarty 8. Josh Papali’i 9. Danny Levi 10. Joseph Tapine 11. Hudson Young 12. Ata Mariota 13. Morgan Smithies 14. Tom Starling 15. Corey Horsburgh 16. Simi Sasagi 17. Pasami Saulo 18. Kaeo Weekes 19. Nick Cotric 20. Trey Mooney 21. Zac Woolford 22. Emre Guler

Elliott Whitehead sat out Sunday’s loss to Cronulla with a calf problem and is out again. Winger Albert Hopoate (arm) is aiming to return next week while Zac Hosking is out after a concussion.

Eels: 1. Clint Gutherson 2. Maika Sivo 3. Viliami Penisini 4. Bailey Simonsson 5. Sean Russell 6. Blaize Talagi 7. Dylan Brown 8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 9. Joey Lussick 10. Junior Paulo 11. Shaun Lane 12. Ryan Matterson 13. J’maine Hopgood 14. Luca Moretti 15. Wiremu Greig 16. Joe Ofahengaue 17. Kelma Tuilagi 18. Ofahiki Ogden 19. Daejarn Asi 20. Brendan Hands 21. Makahesi Makatoa 22. Morgan Harper

Wiremu Greig replaces Bryce Cartwright, who was named but did not play on Easter Monday.

Bye – Sharks

Braden Hamlin-Uele (knee) and Dale Finucane (concussion) are hoping to return in Round 6 while suspended second-rower Briton Nikora will definitely be back. Fellow forwards Royce Hunt (calf) and Toby Rudolf (ankle) will remain on the sidelines for a few more weeks. 

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