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Around the Grounds - Team News Round 23
Just four rounds to go and every match counts - starting on Friday night
with the Panthers hosting the Tigers at Centrebet Stadium. Penrith welcome
the return of rookie Harry Siejka with club stalwart Luke Lewis out
injured (shoulder). Junior Vaivai and Dayne Weston also come back into
the lineup. Seluini will start at hooker in place of Kevin Kingston
(bench). The biggest change for the Panthers is Michael Jennings - he
moves to fullback. The Tigers bring in Mitch Brown to replace
injured centre Chris Lawrence in an otherwise unchanged side after their
16-14 win over heavyweights St George Illawarra.
Up north on Friday night the Cowboys and Broncos face off as Darren Lockyer plays his 350th NRL match for the Brisbane Broncos - the most ever by a Bronco or NRL player in history. The only change for Brisbane sees Josh McGuire replace the injured Ben Hannant in the starting lineup, with David Hala returning on the bench. The big news for this clash though, is the return of Cowboys co-captains Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott. Kalifa Faifai-Loa also returns from the injury that kept him out of the side's last-start loss to Canterbury on Friday, with Ben Jones and Will Tupou the omitted players.
Saturday night's triple treat begins across the Tasman when the Warriors host Newcastle. The Warriors will be looking at the return of Joel Moon to boost them after the heartbreaking loss on Saturday against Brisbane, while Ukuma Ta'ai is also recalled on an extended bench. The Knights have an unchanged side for this one with all players pulling up clear from Sunday's big win over Canberra.
While the result is expected to be lopsided, Melbourne are happy to welcome back Jesse Bromwich in the forward pack for Saturday night's clash with the last-placed Gold Coast Titans. Anthony Quinn maintains his place on the wing ahead of Sisa Waqa, while Adam Woolnough is out with an elbow injury as the Storm gun for their 11th straight win. Last-start winners themselves, the Titans have shifted Preston Campbell to halfback in the absence of Scott Prince, who sustained a broken arm in their win over Cronulla. An extended bench has been named with a series of injury concerns for the Titans.
The gloss might have worn off the famous Eels v Manly rivalry lately, but the Parramatta side will be keen to atone for their huge loss last night to South Sydney. Reni Maitua is expected to make his return after being ruled out of the match last night, while Justin Poore's late inclusion will see the former Dragon retained in their lineup. The Eagles are back in the swing of things after a solid win over the Roosters last Sunday and while they'll miss prop and co-captain Jason King for the rest of 2011, they do welcome back Michael Robertson on the wing. George Rose earns a starting spot with King's absence.
Canberra's Daniel Vidot has been granted compassionate leave by the club due to personal reasons, meaning Reece Robinson returns on the wing. Dane Tilse and Glen Buttriss will also be missing due to injury, Bronson Harrison and Danny Galea will come into the starting side. South Sydney are unchanged following their 56-6 drubbing of the Eels on Monday evening.
Sunday's feature game is the 2010 Grand Final replay... and it's not set to be as exciting as many hoped - although it is vital. The Dragons are in poor form at the moment, leading the way in their last three matches before succumbing to teams well below their own ability level. Despite this, the Dragons are unchanged, with Mitch Rein not named for this match and the Dragons 1-17 as they lined up on Friday last weekend. The Roosters are also unchanged although their are interesting times ahead, Nate Myles needs to overcome an injury as well as a disciplinary committee at the club, with he, Todd Carney and Frank-Paul Nuuasuala in trouble for breaking the club's alcohol consumption rules. Read that statement from the Roosters - click here.
Monday night football hits Toyota Stadium this weekend, the Sharks welcoming back Nathan Gardner in the custodian role while Paul Gallen has been named despite facing the judiciary tomorrow night following a stomping charges. Issac Gordon stays in the side, moving to the wing in place of Matt Wright, with Ricky Leutele retaining his place in the centres. Eels-bound Taulima Tautai is also relegated along with Wright to NSW Cup, while Jason Bukuya and Albert Kelly returns. Canterbury have just the two changes, with Josh Reynolds promoted to starting hooker in the absence of the suspended Joel Romelo. Mickey Paea is the new face on the bench, marking the first time this season the Bulldogs have opted for a four-forward rotation on the bench. Ben Roberts is also back at five-eighth after being a late withdrawal last Friday when the 'Dogs defeated North Queensland.
All the teams for the 23rd round of the NRL, plus all four other grades can be found by clicking here.