The Postman’s Mail: The return of Billy Slater headlines this week’s Latest of Late Mail.
Billy is back and should he slot right back into your Dream Team?
The other news from the Storm is Todd Lowrie and Gareth Widdop get a rest… interesting. The other fullback who might return from an injury layoff of his own is Brettly Stewart, while a Giraffe may be spotted in Canberra on Sunday afternoon. And it sounds like Tim Sheens has hollared for a Marshall as well.
And you know you can trust me because The Postman’s mail is rarely on time or indeed accurate – or is it?
LATE MAIL FOR ROUND 21
Dragons v Storm
| Billy Slater will play barring any Friday morning soreness in his knee. But the Storm will rest Todd Lowrie and Gareth Widdop, so look for Jaiman Lowe or Maurice Blair to come in on the bench and Rory Kostjasyn to start at five-eighth. Justin O’Neill might also be a late inclusion. The Dragons hope to get Nathan Fien back from a knee injury, but if he can’t go then Cameron King or one of Leeson Ah Mau or Will Matthews will make the bench. Dean Young remains in doubt – with any member of the bench (most likely Jack de Belin) likely to start for him if he can’t play. Another option is Beau Scott back into the forwards and young Nathan Green into the centres if Young is out.
Roosters v Titans
| Michael Henderson didn’t travel with the Titans so Dominique Peyroux is their 18th man. Greg Bird has declared himself ready to go, as has bench forward Ben Ridge and Nate Myles. The Roosters will have two rookies on the wing in the returning Tautau Moga and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck. Mitchell Aubusson could find himself at lock with Tinirau Arona moving to the bench. Martin Kennedy (head) and Lama Tasi (shoulder) are both in some doubt.
Bulldogs v Cowboys
| Kris Keating is long long long odds to play, so David Stagg is your likely five-eighth with Josh Reynolds just swapping jumpers, not roles, at halfback. Alternatively, Ben Barba could be injected into the halves. Martin Taupau will be preferred to Harlan Alaalatoa on the bench. There’s also a chance James Graham could start on the bench – again – and Dale Finucane play the first 10-15 minutes instead. The Cowboys should be 1-17 with Ray Thompson unlikely to push Michael Morgan out of the team after a win..
Sharks v Panthers
| Jeremy Smith will play – and Paul Gallen only needs to wake up on Saturday feeling okay to take his place. He is still not a definite starter however after pulling up a little sore on Thursday from training – NFI with the scoop. There’s a chance Jayson Bukuya could be moved to right centre to make room for Anthony Tupou in the run on team in the second row and Ricky Leutele would miss out. NFI is also hearing that Todd Carney is a 50/50 chance of playing. Jon Green and Tyson Frizell are the most likely bench players to miss out on a spot, especially if Wade Graham (sternum) is a late inclusion. The Panthers hope Michael Gordon is ready to return after completing training during the week, he would come in for Etu Uaisele on the wing. Luke Walsh is also under a fitness cloud due to an ongoing shoulder injury.
Sea Eagles v Warriors
| Officially Manly say Brett Stewart won’t play but he’s not exactly a PR machine so why would they take him to Perth if he wasn’t going to play? Then again, maybe it is because he wants to sow the seeds for his evolution into a Pirate – a West Coast Pirate, say in 2019 as a middle aged pensioner. Word is trickling through however that Dean Whare will definitely play and Stewart is giving his hammy at least another week’s rest and just wanted to grab the extra frequent flyer miles. Vic Mauro and Daniel Harrison would be the extra men in the stands. The Warriors might give Sebastine Ikahihifo his debut with Pita Godinet as 18th man. Otherwise the only possible change is a prop swap (but just a starter to the bench for Jacob Lillyman or Sione Lousi).
Raiders v Knights
| Canberra will only make one change – and that would be Dane Tilse in for Sam Mataora or Mark Nicholls. Tilse needs to pass a fitness test on his ribs to be considered. Blake Ferguson has a smashed snoz but will play. It’s worth noting that Josh McCrone is still Josh McCrone – but he’ll overcome that disadvantage and pull on his #6 jersey. Newcastle will go with the same team as last week with Marvin Filipo 18th man.
Rabbitohs v Tigers
| Benji Marshall is in doubt with a bruised hand and a sore foot… but he’s not out yet and has stated he will play. Chris Lawrence, Ben Murdoch-Masila and Curtis Sironen are all OUT, with Tim Simona, Joel Reddy and Masada Iosefa the only not-named players who will definitely come in (or in Reddy and Iosefa’s case – stay in). Tom Humble is a chance in the halves, while Marika Koroibete is a good chance of making his debut on the wing. Tim Simona is also an option after not being named to play in NSW Cup, as is Jacob Miller (<—- Chairman Un’s mail is normally reliable re: Tigers). There’s also a chance Blake Aysford could miss with a back issue and Tim Moltzen is is a 50/50 shot at overcoming a hamstring strain. Then there’s Souths – no Greg Inglis so Nathan Merritt goes to fullback, Justin Hunt onto the wing and Shaune Corrigan and Josh Starling will be the leftover extras.
Broncos v Eels
| Corey Parker’s knee isn’t 100% but he wants to play and credits the long turn-around (Friday to Monday) as the main reason why he will. Ben Te’o beat a suspension and will play, while Corey Norman’s groin is a concern. Jack Reed wants to return soon from a leg injury but might be held back at least another week. With Te’o free to play – Matt Gillett could move to the centres and Gerard Beale to the wing with Aaron Whitchurch missing out. We won’t know the situation with Parker & Norman until after lockout unfortunately due to the Monday night game. The Eels should be as named on Tuesday with Mitchell Allgood and Taulima Tautai fighting it out for the final bench spot.
Got any even Later Late Mail to share with the DreamTeamers commune? Don’t be selfish, we haven’t been.