Rapana returns as Raiders face Bulldogs

Magic Round opens with the Raiders taking on the Bulldogs on Friday evening.

Jordan Rapana (knee) returns at fullback in a big boost for Ricky Stuart’s men with Albert Hopoate making way whilst Josh Papali’i has been named to start in the front row with Emre Guler reverting to the bench.

Cameron Ciraldo has named the same 17 that went down to the defending premier Panthers a week ago.

The Raiders have won their past eight against the Bulldogs who have lost all four of their Magic Round encounters.

Turbo-less Sea Eagles meet Broncos

On Friday night, the Broncos will face a Manly side fresh off losing Tom Trbojevic to another hamstring injury.

Trbojevic joins Jason Saab (shoulder) in the casualty ward with Toluta’u Koula shifting to fullback, Tommy Talau into the centres, and Raymond Tuaimalo Vaega and Jaxson Paulo making up a new wing pairing.

In more positive news for Anthony Seibold’s men, Haumole Olakau’atu (suspension) returns with Corey Waddell reverting to the pine and Toafofoa Sipley dropping out.

Jack Madden (pec) comes in at halfback in place of Josh Rogers whilst Billy Walters’ (wrist) unavailability sees Tyson Smoothy start at hooker and Blake Mozer come onto the bench.

The Sea Eagles have lost their past four games at Suncorp and have won just one of their four Magic Round outings.

Undermanned Titans face Knights

Having been struck by a brutal injury bug in Round 10, the Titans make the quick trip north to face the Knights on Saturday afternoon.

AJ Brimson (groin), Kieran Foran (hamstring), Phillip Sami (hamstring) and Harley Smith-Shields (pec) all suffered injuries in the Titans’ win over the Cowboys last week.

Chris Randall and Sam Verrills make up a makeshift halves pairing with Erin Clark starting at hooker and Keenan Palasia and Joe Stimson coming onto the interchange.

Alofiana Khan-Pereira starts on the wing with Aaron Schoupp coming into the centres.

Tyson Gamble (foot) and Daniel Saifiti (suspension) are out for the Knights with Jack Cogger coming into the halves and Jacob Saifiti (leg) replacing his twin brother up front.

The Titans have won four of their past six at Suncorp whilst recently recommitted back rower David Fifita has scored seven tries from his past five against Newcastle.

Sharks, Roosters battle in heavyweight showdown

The Sharks and Roosters do battle in perhaps the most anticipated clash of the weekend on Saturday evening.

Nicho Hynes (calf) has been named to return for the Sharks with Blayke Brailey back at No.9, Cameron McInnes going to lock, Jack Williams reverting to the pine and Braden Hamlin-Uele dropping out.

Braydon Trindall (stand down) has been named among the reserves.

Joseph Manu (head knock) and Sandon Smith (suspension) are out for the Chooks with Junior Pauga starting in the centres, Brandon Smith (calf) returning at hooker, and Connor Watson shifting back to the bench.

The Roosters have won eight of their past nine against the Sharks who have won only one of their past seven at Suncorp.

Rabbitohs, Cowboys looking to get season back on track

Both riding five-game losing streaks, the Rabbitohs and Cowboys meet on Saturday night desperate to get their years back on track.

Alex Johnston (hamstring) and Jacob Gagai (calf) return to make up a new wing pairing for Souths with Izaac Tu’itupou Thompson shifting into the centres and Gehamat Shibasaki and Michael Chee Kam dropping out.

Taane Milne (suspension) returns onto the bench in place of last week’s debutant Matt French.

Murray Taulagi (hamstring) and Jordan McLean (hamstring) return in a big boost for the Cows with Semi Valemei (ankle) dropping out, Thomas Mikaele reverting to the bench, and Harrison Edwards out.

The Rabbitohs have won seven of their past eight against North Queensland and are undefeated in Magic Round showdowns.

Warriors come up against Cleary-less Penrith

The Warriors will be looking to return to form when they take a Panthers unit minus Nathan Cleary on Sunday.

Shaun Johnson (pec), Rocco Berry (hand), Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (hamstring), and Freddy Lussick (head knock) are all out for the Warriors.

Taine Tuaupiki is back in the No.1 jersey, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad shifts into an unfamiliar five-eighth role, and Te Maire Martin is the halfback.

Ali Leiataua and Adam Pompey make up a new centre pairing with Marcelo Montoya returning onto the wing in place of Ed Kosi and Jacob Laban joining the bench.

Cleary’s (hamstring) unavailability sees Jarome Luai line-up at halfback and rookie Jack Cole come in at five-eighth.

Izack Tago (suspension) comes back into the centres in place of Paul Alamoti with Daine Laurie and Matt Eisenhuth coming onto the interchange with Liam Henry (head knock) out.

The Panthers are riding an eight-game winning streak against the Warriors who have lost three Magic Round clashes in a row.

Storm set for Eels showdown

Melbourne will look to bounce back from last week’s loss when they come up against the Eels on Sunday afternoon.

Xavier Coates (hamstring) is back onto the wing with Grant Anderson making way whilst skipper Harry Grant has avoided suspension and will play.

With Mitchell Moses still sidelined, Dylan Brown keeps the No.7 jersey but Daejarn Asi replaces Ethan Sanders at five-eighth.

Bryce Cartwright (ribs) comes onto the bench in place of Brendan Hands.

Parra have won only one of their four Magic Round outings although Maika Sivo has scored five tries in three Magic Round games.

Dolphins look to keep good times rolling vs. slumping Wests Tigers

The Dolphins will look to cement their spot in the top four when they meet the Wests Tigers in the final clash of the weekend on Sunday evening.

John Bateman (pec), Starford Toa’ (hamstring) and Isaiah Papali’i (suspension) are missing for the Wests Tigers with Alex Seyfarth and Alex Twal earning promotions into the run-on side, Brent Naden shifting into the centres, and rookie Solomon Alaimalo coming onto the wing.

Asu Kepaoa and debutant Sione Fainu come onto the interchange.

The second oldest of the four Fainu brothers, Sione earns an awaited debut having made a name for himself coming through the grades at Manly.

He linked up with the Wests Tigers in 2022 and last year become a key member of their NSW Cup outfit.

Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow (hamstring) returns at fullback for the Dolphins with Trai Fuller making way after deputising for the Origin star in admirable fashion whilst Kenny Bromwich comes in for Max Plath (head knock).

The Wests Tigers have won only two of their past seven at Suncorp but have won three of their four Magic Round clashes.

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The post NRL Weekly Watch: Previewing Magic Round first appeared on The Sporting Base.

The post NRL Weekly Watch: Previewing Magic Round appeared first on The Sporting Base.