Overnight news

Newcastle second-rower Clint Newton says St George Illawarra skipper Trent Barrett got off lightly with a six-match suspension for his hit on Knights teammate Brian Carney.

Barrett has been rubbed out for six games after taking the early guilty plea for his grade five striking charge on Carney, a ban which will sideline the Wigan-bound five-eighth until round 20. Newton, who served a 12-game ban for an elbow to the head of young Dragons forward Ashton Sims in 2004, says the media is prejudiced against players like Melbourne's Michael Crocker and the Sydney Roosters' Adrian Morley.

Barrett says tackles sometimes go wrong and he didn't intend to come into contact with Carney's head. NRL chief operating officer Graham Annesley says the league will continue to use any video evidence available to punish acts of foul play.

In a day of changes around the clubs, embattled South Sydney has rushed former Cronulla fullback David Peachey into its starting line-up for Saturday night's trip to Canberra. Peachey was only signed by the Rabbitohs this week after being sacked by English club Widnes.

Souths will be without centre Adam MacDougall who was stood down after publicly criticising his teammates on the weekend. Elsewhere, St George Illawarra's Mark Gasnier will play five-eighth against Parramatta in the absence of suspended skipper Trent Barrett, while Melbourne excitement machine Billy Slater returns from suspension on the bench against the Sydney Roosters on Saturday.

Newcastle welcome back injured trio Steve Simpson, Clint Newton and Anthony Quinn while Craig Gower mounts a last-ditch bid for NSW selection, going head to head with Manly's Matt Orford on Sunday.