Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
3 days ago
While some of the team's youngsters will be asked to fill key roles on Sunday, a number of the team's rep stars are looking forward to a full seven-day rest before tackling the Panthers.
Andrew Johns, Steve Simpson and Timana Tahu all backed up in the winter chill of Canberra after starring tin the Kangaroo's victory over the British Lions last Friday night. All three, in conjunction with Test rake, Danny Buderus, are hopeful fresh legs will enable them to take a leading role for their team against the struggling Penrith side.
Out of the team that played in Canberra last Sunday are Queensland State of Origin rep, Robbie O'Davis with a groin injury, Daniel Abraham with fractured ribs and Justin Ryder, who has been relegated to First Division.
Coming into the starting team is Kurt Gidley at fullback, debutant Neil Sweeney on the right wing and Clint Newton in the second row. On the bench, Matt Jobson has been promoted into the seventeen, with Julian Bailey named as eighteenth man.
Mark Hughes, who underwent an MRI scan on his injured ankle yesterday, will have further scans today to ascertain the extent of damage before any decision about his availability is made.
Test Hooker, Danny Buderus, who did not take the field in last week's loss, said today he was feeling refreshed and looking forward to playing a leading role this Sunday.
"The last couple of months have been pretty hectic, with quite a few obligations outside of club footy, but now there is no doubt where our focus will be" he said.
"We've got eight games to go until the semis and we're sitting in good position to finish high on the table."
"What we need to make sure of is that while we're carrying a few injuries we keep winning. That responsibility will obviously fall on the more experienced players in the team and that's something I'm looking forward to.
NEWCASTLE v PENRITH PANTHERS ROUND 19 AT ENERGY AUSTRALIA STADIUM
2.30PM SUNDAY, 21ST JULY 2002
Coach: Michael Hagan
Kurt Gidley Neil Sweeney Timana Tahu Mark Hughes Anthony Quinn Sean Rudder Andrew Johns (c) Josh Perry Danny Buderus Matt Parsons Steve Simpson Clint Newton Bill Peden Interchange:
Jarrod O'Doherty Adam Woolnough John Morris Matt Jobson Julian Bailey