The NSW Blues have been named for the first game of the 2017 #Origin series.
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Sharks coach Stuart Raper has opted to tackle the speed and guile of the Wests Tigers with a big pack of forwards in their important round 21 clash at Toyota Park this Sunday.
Raper has selected a bench comprising Hutch Maiava, Sam Isemonger, Phil Leuluai and Keith Galloway, all four players weighing in at over 100kgs, with the view to dominating the contest through the forwards.
Added to imposing size coming into the match off the interchange bench will be Jason Stevens, who returns from suspension, and his front row partner Danny Nutley. Nutley will play his 101st NRL game on Sunday, with the inspirational forward hoping for a better outcome than when he chalked up his century of NRL games last week at Oki Jubilee Oval.
After dropping the two competition points to the St George Illawarra Dragons the Sharks will be desperate to turn around their fortunes and continue their good home-field record in a bid to stay in touch with the large group of teams battling for semi final berths.
Currently the Sharks are tied on 24 points, equal with their opponents the Tigers, but are sitting in seventh position on for-and-against. Also returning for the Sharks will be Paul Mellor who has recovered from a hip flexor problem. Making way for Mellor will be young Kiwi centre Vince Mellars. In the forwards Kevin Kingston drops off the interchange bench and will play for the Newtown Jets in Premier League, with Matt Hilder the only hooker named for the match.
While the Sharks have struggled to find their best form in recent weeks, the Tigers are riding high after a franchise-record four successive victories. Leading the way for the joint-venture outfit of late has been the halves combination of Benji Marshall and Scott Prince, with the young Tiger forwards toiling hard to give their young playmakers time and space to weave their magic.
The Sharks v Tigers match kicks off at 3.00pm on Sunday. Tony Archer has been appointed as the referee.
Team: DAVID PEACHEY DAVID SIMMONS NIGEL VAGANA PAUL MELLOR NATHAN MERRITT ADAM DYKES BRETT KIMMORLEY JASON STEVENS MATT HILDER DANNY NUTLEY REECE WILLIAMS PHIL BAILEY PAUL GALLEN
HUTCH MAIAVA SAM ISEMONGER PHIL LEULUAI KEITH GALLOWAY