Early Mail: Taumalolo set for comeback
Get the latest team news ahead of Tuesday's team announcements in the Round 8 edition of NRL Early Mail.
RABBITOHS v BRONCOS
7.50pm Thursday at ANZ Stadium
Rabbitohs: No changes expected to the side that beat the Panthers. Braidon Burns (hamstring) is aiming for Round 11.
Broncos: There is very strong mail that James Roberts' appearance for the Broncos against the Rabbitohs on Thursday night will be his last in a Brisbane jersey, writes Phil Rothfield. He is expected to follow Wayne Bennett to South Sydney the week after.
INJURIES: Full NRL casualty ward Round 7
COWBOYS v TITANS
6pm Friday at 1300Smiles Stadium
Cowboys: Star forward Jason Taumalolo will be given every opportunity to prove his fitness as he eyes an early return from a knee injury.
Taumalolo was named in the extended squad for the clash with the Bulldogs, and while he trained with the squad in the captain's run last Thursday, he was left out of the final 17.
Green suggested the lock forward, who put in a machine-like performance in the Cowboys Round 1 win over the Dragons, had come up just short of where he needed to be and having a full week on the training paddock would give him more chance for Friday's clash.
"We will see how he trains in the early part of the week. We have a full week ahead of us so that will give us a pretty clear indication come Tuesday," Green said.
- Matthew Elkerton
Titans: Winger Dale Copley (quad) lasted just eight minutes on the weekend and is expected to be ruled out. Philip Sami will join the starting side after filling in for Copley against the Tigers, with the bench utility spot wide open.
Jarrod Wallace (suspension) returns, likely pushing Moeaki Fotuaika to the bench. Keegan Hipgrave (back) and AJ Brimson (thumb) could come into contention.
SHARKS v STORM
7.55pm Friday at Shark Park
Sharks: Coach John Morris is sweating on the fitness of Josh Dugan and star half Shaun Johnson after both succumbed to hamstring injuries.
The pair joined the likes of Matt Moylan, Aaron Woods and Wade Graham on the Sharks' high-profile injury list.
"I will try to find 17 fit players next week. I might have to pull the jersey on again," Morris said.
"But one of the first words I think of when it comes to the Sharkies, they are a very resilient club - we always find a way to fight back."
Dugan's withdrawal after getting injured in the warm-up forced Morris to hand Ronaldo Mulitalo his NRL debut.
Halfback Kyle Flanagan and outside backs Sione Katoa and Aaron Gray are all in the frame for first-grade call-ups.
In good news for the Sharks, young gun Briton Nikora returns from suspension.
Storm: Centre Curtis Scott was dropped last week due to defensive lapses. It's unclear if he would unseat Marion Seve at centre this week.
RAIDERS v PANTHERS
3pm Saturday at GIO Stadium
Raiders: Canberra is hopeful Jordan Rapana won't spend time on the sidelines with a rib injury, with coach Ricky Stuart confident his star winger hasn't suffered a break.
After already having been forced to fight back from a bad shoulder injury over the off-season, Rapana left the field early in Canberra's loss to Manly on Sunday.
The Kiwi winger appeared in significant pain as he struggled to get up from his next hit up after suffering the injury.
He will head for scans on Monday, but Stuart was hopeful the blow wasn't too serious ahead of next Saturday's clash with Penrith.
"I don't think it's broken," Stuart said.
"I think it's cartilage. If it is cartilage he will be okay. Hopefully it's okay."
If Rapana was sidelined, young gun Bailey Simonsson could be in line for a recall after starring in reserves for Mounties.
Panthers: No changes expected despite the loss to South Sydney.
SEA EAGLES v BULLDOGS
5.30pm Saturday at Lottoland
Sea Eagles: Coach Des Hasler has a host of injury concerns, headlined by skipper Daly Cherry-Evans (ankle), who has been ruled out for 4-6 weeks. Hasler only called in Lachlan Croker to replace Kane Elgey on Sunday, but it now appears likely they could both be in the halves. Veteran Trent Hodkinson is also a contender, especially given his goalkicking credentials.
Hooker Api Koroisau and winger Jorge Taufua both picked up calf injuries and could also be sidelined, although their injuries are not considered serious. Rising star Manase Fainu would start at hooker if Koroisau is out, but the Sea Eagles' backline depth is already stretched and a replacement for Taufua is unclear. Addin Fonua-Blake returns from a two-match suspension.
ROOSTERS v TIGERS
7.35pm Saturday at SCG
Tigers: Five-eighth Josh Reynolds (knee) faces time out, but his absence should be offset by the return of Benji Marshall. Marshall hasn't played since Round 3, and the Tigers have taken a cautious approach with the veteran's rehabilitation from a hamstring injury. Luke Garner (concussion) is gunning for a return.
WARRIORS v KNIGHTS
2pm Sunday at Mt Smart Stadium
Warriors: Coach Stephen Kearney is hopeful of being back to full strength after losing star skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (hamstring) and halfback Blake Green (groin) to injury, while centre Solomone Kata dropped out of the side on compassionate grounds.
Kearney said Green could have played if their match was later in the round, and he feels he is on track for a Round 8 start. Kata's replacement, Patrick Herbert, impressed on debut. David Fusitu'a (ribs) could also be in contention for a recall.
Knights: Centre Jesse Ramien (shoulder) will be sent for scans. If out, the door could open for Sione Mata'utia to return to the starting side at right centre after a late inclusion last week.
EELS v DRAGONS
4.05pm Sunday at Bankwest Stadium
Eels: Daniel Alvaro (concussion) is aiming to return which would likely push Peni Terepo to the bench and Ray Stone out of the side.
Dragons: Halfback Ben Hunt suffered a shoulder injury in the Anzac Day clash that was later diagnosed as a cork. He is expected to be fit the coming round, with the aid of a long turnaround.