Manly and South Sydney have both been significantly bolstered ahead of Friday’s top-of-the-table NRL showdown at the SCG with Sam Burgess, Ben Te’o, Jorge Taufua and Justin Horo all set to return from the sidelines.
Rabbitohs enforcer Burgess has been named to play in what some are labelling as a potential grand final preview, after missing the side’s win over Newcastle on Sunday with a shoulder problem, while Ben Te’o returns from suspension.
Manly winger Jorge Taufua will play his first game in three weeks in the round-22 clash after recovering from an ankle injury while back-rower Justin Horo is back from suspension.
“Apart from Johnny Sutton, everyone is coming back,” stand-in Souths skipper Greg Inglis said at training on Tuesday.
Former NSW prop Tim Grant and club co-captain Kevin Kingston will return for injury-hit Penrith for Sunday’s trip to Wollongong to play St George Illawarra.
Out-of-favour Panthers duo Grant and Kingston have been added to a seven-man bench.
Out-of-sorts Canterbury have been boosted by the comebacks of Josh Morris and Aiden Tolman for Friday’s match against Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium.
Cronulla’s injury woes have been eased by the return of captain Paul Gallen (biceps) against the Warriors in Auckland on Sunday.
NSW Origin backrower Luke Lewis (hamstring), stand-in skipper Wade Graham (foot) and young winger Jacob Gagan (hamstring) have all been ruled out for the year following the side’s loss to Parramatta.
Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson (groin) will miss a third straight week with Thomas Leuluai filling in, while Konrad Hurrell (groin) will be replaced by teenager Tuimoala Lolohea.
Canberra backline stars Edrick Lee (foot) and Jack Wighton (thumb) have both been cleared to return from long-term injuries against Parramatta in Darwin on Saturday night.
The Raiders were thumped 54-18 by the Warriors on Sunday with season-ending injuries to Shaun Fensom (anterior cruciate ligament), David Shillington (pectoral) and Kurt Baptiste (shoulder) compounding the embarrassing defeat.
Coach Ricky Stuart has shifted Brisbane-bound fullback Anthony Milford to five-eighth to replace Terry Campese (abdominal) with ex-Gold Coast back Jordan Rapana to play at No.1 in his first NRL game since 2008.
For the Eels, Kenny Edwards replaces back-rower David Gower.
Newcastle have received a boost with Jarrod Mullen (abdominal), Kade Snowden (concussion) and Akuila Uate (knee) all available when they take on Melbourne at Hunter Stadium on Saturday.
Mullen’s return has prompted Knights coach Wayne Bennett to push captain Kurt Gidley to fullback.
Wests Tigers Mick Potter has named Luke Brooks and Pat Richards for Saturday’s trip to Townsville to meet North Queensland, but both are unlikely to play.
Sydney Roosters hooker Jake Friend (hamstring) has been ruled out for up to a month and will be replaced by Heath L’Estrange in the starting side for Monday’s Allianz Stadium match-up with Gold Coast, with Mitchell Aubusson returning via the bench.