The NSW Blues have been named for the first game of the 2017 #Origin series.
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VB NSW CUP MATCH PREVIEWS - ROUND 2
Manly Sea Eagles Vs Mounties
Brookvale Oval, Saturday, March 10
Referee: Michael Laverty
Broadcast: Triple H 100.1FM (Link available via the www.nswrl.com.au Broadcast page)
Summary: The Manly Sea Eagles made a bright start to their 2012 campaign when they handsomely accounted for the Western Suburbs Magpies at Lidcombe Oval last Saturday while just a few kilometres away at Belmore Sports Ground, Mounties showed all and sundry that they will be no one's whipping boys in their inaugural season of the VB NSW Cup, going down by six to the three time defending Premiers.
It wasn't all good news for the Sea Eagles with Ben Farrar suffering an end of season ACL injury in what was his first match back with Manly after a season with Les Catalan Dragons in 2011. The Sea Eagles will also be without their other centre from last week in Dean Whare as he has been elevated to the NRL as cover for Steve Matai, and with the announcement that Glenn Stewart will also be missing this week, it appears that either Daniel Harrison or George Rose may miss this clash against Mounties.
The visitors will field a fairly settled line up this week although Michael Picker has been named to make his debut in the six jumper while Mark Nicholls has been elevated to the starting side.
Talking Point: Return of the Bani-cle - The man with the cult like following, the Bani-cle was once a Brookvale Oval favourite amongst the fans on the hill but he will no doubt be enemy number one this Saturday as Mounties make the trip to the northern beaches. After spending a few seasons with the Sea Eagles, Bani jetted off up north to the Cowboys in a trade that ironically sent the previously mentioned Farrar south. But after a few disappointing seasons in the tropics, Bani has been thrown a lifeline by the Raiders and he will be looking to impress in what will be his first game at Brookvale since May 2009.
Prediction: Given the loss of some key personnel to Manly and off the back of a more than encouraging debut last weekend, we feel Mounties may be able to register their first win in the VB NSW Cup. Mounties by 6.
Balmain Ryde-Eastwood Tigers Vs Cronulla Sharks
Leichhardt Oval, Saturday, March 10
Referee: Tony De Las Heras
Broadcast: NSWRL Match of the Round to be aired on Fox Sports 2 HD and Fox Sports 2, Wednesday, March 14, 4.30pm
Summary: The Balmain Ryde-Eastwood Tigers will look to bounce back from what was a disappointing start to 2012 when they tackle a Sharks outfit that is brimming with NRL talent. In fact all but two of the Sharks starting 13 have NRL experience, the two not to have debuted in the NRL are Sosaia Feki (Two-time NYC winner with the Warriors) and Tyrone Peachey (Sharks NYC Player of the Year in 2011).
The Tigers will be without Mitch Brown here after he was released from his contract mid-week to join the Bulldogs. Coach Paul Fletcher has rung the changes after last week and as a result Chisholm has shifted to fullback, Linc Port moves to the wing and former Magpie Marc Russell will partner Nathan Waters in the halves.
Matthew Wright has been named at the back for Cronulla which will see last week's two try hero in Feki retained on the wing. From all reports Chad Townsend was outstanding for the Sharks last week and his clash with opposing number seven in Nathan Waters should be tantalising.
Talking Point: Breach notice - The NSWRL Operations Department should seriously look at handing the Cronulla Sharks a