Around the Grounds with Rosso

The Bulldogs will be without representative stars Roy Asotasi, Willie Mason and Willie Tonga for this weekend?s Friday night blockbuster with the Sea Eagles at Brookvale Oval. Chris Armit moves from the bench to the front rower with Nate Myles going in to the backrow, who was under an injury cloud for this match after their loss to the Broncos on Friday.

Manly will still be without inspirational captain Ben Kennedy for the match against Canterbury. New Zealand centre Steve Matai is in doubt for the match after being charged by police yesterday after an alleged nightclub incident.

Canberra, who are coming off the bye, have named utility Todd Carney on the bench and have dropped winger David Howell for their important clash with the Storm on Saturday night. Carney played halfback against the Tigers a fortnight ago while Howell, who was on the wing against the Tigers, has been replaced by former Bronco Craig Frawley.

Melbourne, who for the first time in a while are coming off a loss, welcome back fullback Billy Slater from suspension. This forces Greg Inglis in to centre which has pushed Kiwi Jake Webster back on to a five man bench.

Newcastle is unchanged for their last home match in the regular season against the Panthers on Saturday night. A win against the Panthers will secure a finals birth in season 2006, after the Novocastrians were wooden spooners last year. The Knights have the bye in round 26, with captain Andrew Johns returning for the first week of the finals.

The Panthers must win on Saturday night to keep their semi final hopes alive this season. Penrith must win their remaining two matches plus hope that results go their way if they were to sneak in to the finals. There are no changes to the side which some how made a miraculous comeback at Toyota Park on Saturday night, although Craig Gower could not finish training today after a re-occurring knee injury, which was damaged in the side?s win against the Sharks.

St George Illawarra is unchanged for their farewell of Trent Barrett at WIN Stadium in Wollongong before he heads over to Wigan at the end of the season. Mathew Head has been given another week to recuperate before the finals start in just two weeks time.

Cronulla coach Stuart Raper has wielded his axe once again ahead of his side?s local derby against the Dragons. Reece Williams has been demoted to the bench with incoming Dragon in 2007, Beau Scott, moving in to the backrow. Out of favour Nigel Vagana will start the match off the bench and did not play first grade last weekend.

The New Zealand Warriors are unchanged for their last home match for season 2006. The match will be a farewell for Brent Webb (Leeds) and Awen Guttenbeil (Castleford) who will be playing in the engage Super League next season.

The Roosters will be without vice-captain Ashley Harrison for their trip across the Tasman on Sunday afternoon. Chris Flannery moves in to lock while Anthony Tupou and Nigel Plum swap the positions of prop and second row with each other. The Roosters will be looking for win 1000 in their proud 99 year history.

South Sydney will welcome back fullback David Peachey from injury but have ruled out young five-eighth Beau Champion with an ankle injury. Backrower Fetuli Talanoa will come off the bench for his second first grade appearance. Newcaslte bound Todd Polglase replaces Beau in the five-eighth position.

The Cowboys have dropped Broncos bound halfback Brent McConnell for their clash with Souths on Sunday afternoon. He is replaced by normal hooker Aaron Payne, with David Faiumu moving into the starting side. Luke O?Donnell returns from suspension with Queensland representative Jacob Lillyman dropping back to the bench.

Eels coach Jason Taylor has picked the same squad who were victors over the Roosters last weekend, for their game against the Broncos on Sunday. Captain Nathan Cayless has been named in the starting side, although in doubt with heavy concussion, a suspected broken nose and an eye socket injury.

Brisbane have named Australian fullback Karmichael Hunt on the wing for the match against the Eels. He replaces Darius Boyd, on a five man bench, who is one of the few players this season to have played in every game. The winner of the match goes one step closer towards a home semi final, while the loser could go in to seventh place and in to the drop zone for week one of the finals.

The Tigers have the bye this weekend and have one more match in round 26, against South Sydney, to restore some pride in what has been quite an ordinary season for the reigning premiers.

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