A desperate Wests Tigers coach Tim Sheens has pulled the trigger on a dramatic spine shake-up after three losses to start the season.
Brandon Wakeham’s sensational performance against the Bulldogs at Belmore on Sunday has earned the 24-year-old a call up to the starting halves, and he will partner Luke Brooks.
In his first appearance for the season, Wakeham almost single-handedly sparked a fightback that at one point looked to take the Tigers to an unlikely win having trailed virtually all afternoon. He was brought off the bench in the second half and the Tigers scored three tries in four minutes.
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His inclusion pushes Adam Doueihi to fullback and Charlie Staines to the wing, while veteran flanker Davi Nofoaluma is dropped from the team, having been benched on Sunday.
Storm legend Billy Slater said it was Wakeham’s introduction to the game that also sparked Brooks.
“The best part of the Tigers was when (back-up playmaker) Brandon Wakeham came on the field, and he actually sparked a bit of footy in them,” Slater told Wide World of Sports’ The Billy Slater Podcast.
“That actually ignited Luke Brooks, Brooks had a good last 10 minutes.
“But you can’t just play well when there is nothing at stake, the game is gone and you’re throwing the ball around and hoping for the best.
*All times in AEDT
Parramatta Eels vs Penrith Panthers at CommBank Stadium, 8pm
Eels: 1. Clinton Gutherson 2. Maika Sivo 3. Viliami Penisini 4. Waqa Blake 5. Bailey Simonsson 6. Dylan Brown 7. Mitchell Moses 8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 9. Josh Hodgson 10. Junior Paulo 11. Bryce Cartwright 12. Ryan Matterson 13. J’maine Hopgood 14. Matt Doorey 15. Brendan Hands 16. Wiremu Greig 17. Makahesi Makatoa 18. Jakob Arthur 19. Jirah Momoisea 20. Ofahiki Ogden 21. Toni Mataele 22. Haze Dunster
Analysis: Ryan Matterson returns to the Eels backrow after serving a three-game suspension, which he controversially chose over paying a monetary fine. Parramatta has named hooker Brendan Hands to make his NRL debut off the bench.
Panthers: 1. Dylan Edwards 2. Sunia Turuva 3. Izack Tago 4. Stephen Crichton 5. Brian To’o 6. Jarome Luai 7. Nathan Cleary 8. Moses Leota 9. Mitch Kenny 10. James Fisher-Harris 11. Luke Garner 12. Liam Martin 13. Isaah Yeo 14. Soni Luke 15. Scott Sorensen 16. Spencer Leniu 17. Jaeman Salmon 18. Matt Eisenhuth 19. Zac Hosking 20. Tyrone Peachey 21. Jack Cogger 22. Thomas Jenkins
Analysis: Scott Sorensen returns from injury and pushes Matt Eisenhuth out of the team.
Referee: Ashley Klein
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Melbourne Storm vs Wests Tigers at AAMI Park, 6pm
Storm: 1. Nick Meaney 2. William Warbrick 3. Reimis Smith 4. Justin Olam 5. Xavier Coates 6. Cameron Munster 7. Jahrome Hughes 8. Tui Kamikamica 9. Harry Grant 10. Christian Welch 11. Trent Loiero 12. Eliesa Katoa 13. Josh King 14. Tyran Wishart 15. Alec MacDonald 16. Tariq Sims 17. Bronson Garlick 18. Tom Eisenhuth 19. Grant Anderson 20. Aaron Pene 21. Sualauvi Faalogo 22. Jonah Pezet
Analysis: Cameron Munster is named to return from a finger injury. His halves partner, Jahrome Hughes, faces the NRL judiciary on Tuesday night hoping to overturn a one-game suspension. If he fails he will go out of the team, and young gun Jonah Pezet will likely come in to play his second game.
Tigers: 1. Adam Doueihi 2. Charlie Staines 3. Brent Naden 4. Asu Kepaoa 5. Junior Tupou 6. Brandon Wakeham 7. Luke Brooks 8. Stefano Utoikamanu 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. David Klemmer 11. Isaiah Papali’i 12. John Bateman 13. Fonua Pole 14. Daine Laurie 15. Alex Twal 16. Shawn Blore 17. Alex Seyfarth 18. Starford To’a 19. Joe Ofahengaue 20. Justin Matamua 21. David Nofoaluma 22. Jake Simpkin
Analysis: As written above, a spine shake-up for desperate coach Tim Sheens. Brandon Wakeham starts at No.6, Adam Doueihi moves to fullback, Charlie Staines goes to the wing and David Nofoaluma is axed altogether. Daine Laurie returns from injury but will start on the bench, rather than his typical fullback spot.
Referee: Ben Cummins
Dolphins vs Brisbane Broncos at Suncorp Stadium, 8pm
Dolphins: 1. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow 2. Jamayne Isaako 3. Euan Aitken 4. Brenko Lee 5. Tesi Niu 6. Isaiya Katoa 7. Sean O’Sullivan 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Kodi Nikorima 10. Kenny Bromwich 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Connelly Lemuelu 13. Tom Gilbert 14. Jarrod Wallace 15. Mark Nicholls 16. Ray Stone 17. Mason Teague 18. Poasa Faamausili 19. Kurt Donoghoe 20. JJ Collins 21. Anthony Milford 22. Robert Jennings
Analysis: Anthony Milford is on standby to play his first game of the season, after training at five-eighth on Tuesday as teen star Isaiya Katoa rested an elbow injury. Felise Kaufusi has been named but must win his case at the judiciary on Tuesday night, where is seeking to downgrade a dangerous contact charge. If he wins he can play, but if he loses he will miss four games. Jarrod Wallace is back after missing last week due to personal reasons.
Broncos: 1. Reece Walsh 2. Jesse Arthars 3. Kotoni Staggs 4. Herbie Farnworth 5. Selwyn Cobbo 6. Ezra Mam 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Thomas Flegler 9. Billy Walters 10. Payne Haas 11. Kurt Capewell 12. Jordan Riki 13. Patrick Carrigan 14. Cory Paix 15. Keenan Palasia 16. Corey Jensen 17. Martin Taupau 18. Deine Mariner 19. Brendan Piakura 20. Kobe Hetherington 21. Jock Madden 22. Xavier Willison
Analysis: Kevin Walters has named the same team that beat the Dragons last week.
Referee: Adam Gee
North Queensland Cowboys vs Gold Coast Titans at Queensland Country Bank Stadium, 5.30pm
Cowboys: 1. Tomas Chester 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Valentine Holmes 4. Gehamat Shibasaki 5. Murray Taulagi 6. Tom Dearden 7. Chad Townsend 8. Jordan McLean 9. Reece Robson 10. Griffin Neame 11. Coen Hess 12. Jeremiah Nanai 13. Jason Taumalolo 14. Jake Granville 15. Heilum Luki 16. Jamayne Taunoa-Brown 17. James Tamou 18. Brendan Elliot 19. Riley Price 20. Mitchell Dunn 21. Laitia Moceidreke 22. Kulikefu Finefeuiaki
Analysis: The Cowboys have brought Griffin Neame into the starting pack and benched Reuben Cotter.
Titans: 1. AJ Brimson 2. Alofiana Khan-Pereira 3. Brian Kelly 4. Aaron Schoupp 5. Phillip Sami 6. Kieran Foran 7. Tanah Boyd 8. Moeaki Fotuaika 9. Chris Randall 10. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui 11. David Fifita 12. Joe Stimson 13. Isaac Liu 14. Jayden Campbell 15. Jo Vuna 16. Erin Clark 17. Iszac Fa’asumaleaui 18. Klese Haas 19. Sam McIntyre 20. Toby Sexton 21. Keano Kini 22. Treymain Spry
Analysis: The Titans have named the same team that rolled the Storm last week.
Referee: Chris Butler
South Sydney Rabbitohs vs Manly Sea Eagles at Accor Stadium, 7.35pm
Rabbitohs: 1. Latrell Mitchell 2. Alex Johnston 3. Isaiah Tass 4. Campbell Graham 5. Izaac Tu’itupou Thompson 6. Cody Walker 7. Lachlan Ilias 8. Daniel Suluka-Fifita 9. Damien Cook 10. Thomas Burgess 11. Keaon Koloamatangi 12. Jacob Host 13. Cameron Murray 14. Blake Taaffe 15. Michael Chee Kam 16. Davvy Moale 17. Jed Cartwright 18. Ben Lovett 19. Dean Hawkins 20. Tallis Duncan 21. Taane Milne 22. Peter Mamouzelos
Analysis: Hame Sele is out under the new 11-day stand-down rule for category one concussions. He is joined by Shaq Mitchell in the casualty ward, who suffered a knee injury against the Roosters, and fellow forward Tevita Tatola (knee). As a result of the injury crisis, Daniel Suluka-Fifita starts at prop, Jacob Host comes into the backrow, and Blake Taaffe joins the bench.
Sea Eagles: 1. Tom Trbojevic 2. Christian Tuipulotu 3. Brad Parker 4. Tolutau Koula 5. Reuben Garrick 6. Josh Schuster 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Taniela Paseka 9. Lachlan Croker 10. Jake Trbojevic 11. Haumole Olakau’atu 12. Kelma Tuilagi 13. Josh Aloiai 14. Kaeo Weekes 15. Ben Trbojevic 16. Ethan Bullemor 17. Sean Keppie 18. Toafofoa Sipley 19. Cooper Johns 20. Morgan Harper 21. Karl Lawton 22. Ben Condon
Analysis: The Sea Eagles have named the same team that beat the Eels last week.
Referee: Chris Sutton
Warriors vs Canterbury Bulldogs at Mt Smart Stadium, 2pm
Warriors: 1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 2. Edward Kosi 3. Viliami Vailea 4. Adam Pompey 5. Marcelo Montoya 6. Te Maire Martin 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Addin Fonua-Blake 9. Freddy Lussick 10. Bunty Afoa 11. Jackson Ford 12. Marata Niukore 13. Tohu Harris 14. Dylan Walker 15. Bayley Sironen 16. Jazz Tevaga 17. Tom Ale 18. Josh Curran 20. Taine Tuaupiki 21. Ronald Volkman 22. Rocco Berry 23. Demitric Sifakula
Analysis: Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad returns from injury at fullback, as does Jackson Ford. The Warriors lose hooker Wayde Egan to concussion, and Freddy Lussick comes in to wear the No.9 jumper. They also lose Mitchell Barnett who suffered a neck injury last week.
Bulldogs: 1. Hayze Perham 2. Jacob Kiraz 3. Jake Averillo 4. Paul Alamoti 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Matt Burton 7. Kyle Flanagan 8. Max King 9. Reed Mahoney 10. Ryan Sutton 11. Viliame Kikau 12. Jacob Preston 13. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 14. Jayden Okunbor 15. Corey Waddell 16. Jayden Tanner 17. Fa’amanu Brown 19. Braidon Burns 20. Josh Reynolds 21. Karl Oloapu 22. Jackson Topine 23. Kurtis Morrin
Analysis: Canterbury has named the same team that beat the Tigers in round three.
Referee: Peter Gough
Newcastle Knights vs Canberra Raiders at McDonald Jones Stadium, 4.05pm
Knights: 1. Lachlan Miller 2. Hymel Hunt 3. Dane Gagai 4. Bradman Best 5. Greg Marzhew 6. Tyson Gamble 7. Jackson Hastings 8. Daniel Saifiti 9. Jayden Brailey 10. Leo Thompson 11. Brodie Jones 12. Lachlan Fitzgibbon 13. Kurt Mann 14. Phoenix Crossland 15. Jack Hetherington 16. Mathew Croker 17. Jack Johns 18. Dylan Lucas 19. Adam Clune 20. Thomas Cant 21. Enari Tuala 22. Tyson Frizell
Analysis: Jayden Brailey returns at hooker after a week off with concussion, and will captain the team. Danie Saifiti is named despite suffering a shoulder injury last week, while Tyson Frizell is in the reserves as he fights to return. Dom Young has been dumped from the team after a horror performance against the Dolphins, and Greg Marzhew comes onto the wing to play his first game for the year.
Raiders: 1. Sebastian Kris 2. James Schiller 3. Matthew Timoko 4. Harley Smith-Shields 5. Albert Hopoate 6. Jack Wighton 7. Jamal Fogarty 8. Josh Papalii 9. Zac Woolford 10. Joseph Tapine 11. Hudson Young 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Corey Harawira-Naera 14. Tom Starling 15. Pasami Saulo 16. Corey Horsburgh 17. Emre Guler 18. Matt Frawley 19. Brad Schneider 20. Trey Mooney 21. Semi Valemei 22. Peter Hola
Analysis: Josh Papalii has been named to return from a calf injury and play his first game for the year. Danny Levi is out for at least two months with a broken jaw, and Zac Woolford comes into the No.9 jersey as replacement.
Referee: Gerard Sutton
St George Illawarra Dragons vs Cronulla Sharks at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, 6.15pm
Dragons: 1. Tyrell Sloan 2. Mathew Feagai 3. Moses Suli 4. Zac Lomax 5. Mikaele Ravalawa 6. Jayden Sullivan 7. Ben Hunt 8. Francis Molo 9. Moses Mbye 10. Blake Lawrie 11. Ben Murdoch-Masila 12. Jaydn Su’A 13. Jack Bird 14. Jacob Liddle 15. Zane Musgrove 16. Toby Couchman 17. Josh Kerr 18. Michael Molo 19. Max Feagai 20. Jaiyden Hunt 21. Talatau Amone 22. Aaron Woods
Analysis: Young forward Toby Couchman is back to play his second NRL game after being concussed in his debut.
Sharks: 1. William Kennedy 2. Sione Katoa 3. Jesse Ramien 4. Siosifa Talakai 5. Ronaldo Mulitalo 6. Matt Moylan 7. Nicho Hynes 8. Toby Rudolf 9. Blayke Brailey 10. Braden Hamlin-Uele 11. Briton Nikora 12. Teig Wilton 13. Dale Finucane 14. Cameron McInnes 15. Royce Hunt 16. Oregon Kaufusi 17. Braydon Trindall 18. Jack Williams 19. Mawene Hiroti 20. Thomas Hazelton 21. Jayden Berrell 22. Connor Tracey
Analysis: Nicho Hynes finally returns from a calf injury to play his first game of the year. The reigning Dally M Medallist takes his spot in the halves as Braydon Trindall makes way, but is still named on the bench.
Referee: Todd Smith
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