TOP try-scorer Todd Byrne comes back from injury and forwards Richard Villasanti and Monty Betham return to the Vodafone Warriors? starting line-up for their NRL clash against the Bulldogs on Sunday.
After missing two matches with a neck complaint, the 26-year-old Byrne regains his spot on the left wing, looking to resume a run that?s produced 12 tries in his last 12 appearances.
Head coach Tony Kemp has also shuffled his starting combination in the forwards with prop Villasanti preferred in the run-on side at Ericsson Stadium this weekend and Iafeta Paleaaesina moving to the interchange bench.
Vice-captain Monty Betham, who was used from the bench against the Broncos and the Cowboys in the last two matches, will start at loose forward, Sione Faumuina moving into the second row and 139-game veteran Awen Guttenbeil joining Paleaaesina on the bench.
?Todd?s much better after resting his neck the last two weeks and comes in for Manu (Vatuvei), who needs a break after a sternum injury flared up in Townsville,? said Kemp.
?Richard and Monty both played a big part in getting us back into the game when they came off the bench against the Cowboys. They?ve earned the chance to start this week.
?At the same time, we?re looking to Feka (Paleaaesina) and Awen to give us real impact when we bring them on from the bench.?
The injection of Villasanti after 12 minutes in Townsville and Betham 10 minutes later coincided with a period when the Vodafone Warriors turned around an early 10-0 deficit to lead the Cowboys 16-10 early in the second half.
That the side subsequently lost the match 24-16 still disappoints Kemp.
?We all failed on our trip to Townsville. Collectively the coaching staff and the players take responsibility for that,? he said.
?We all know we?re capable of much better and we showed that against Brisbane. That?s the benchmark performance for us.
?This week against the Bulldogs we have to show desperation because that?s where we?re at.?
Apart from Byrne?s swap with Vatuvei, the Vodafone Warriors have the same squad that stopped Brisbane?s 10-match winning streak on June 26.
In Byrne?s absence, Vatuvei maintained a healthy try-scoring rate himself with four-pointers against both Brisbane and North Queensland lifting his total for the season to eight in just 10 appearances.
Captain Steve Price is still some weeks away from being considered so he will miss the chance this weekend of playing against his old Bulldogs side for the first time.
Sunday?s match allows Betham and interchange forward Karl Temata to edge closer to personal milestones.
Betham will make his 95th appearance leaving him on target to reach 100 games before the season ends; he?ll become the 10th player to achieve the feat for the club. Temata closes in on the 50-game mark when he makes his 47th appearance.
The match has Stacey Jones in countdown mode and also close to passing through another barrier. He?s now only three matches away from his scheduled farewell to the Ericsson Stadium faithful when the Vodafone Warriors take on Newcastle on the weekend of August 19-21.
WESTS Tigers Head Coach, Tim Sheens has announced his squad for the Wests Tigers v Roosters Game at Telstra Stadium, kick off at 2.30pm.
NEW recruit Chris Sheppard will make his debut for St George Illawarra at Parramatta Stadium this Friday night when the seventh placed Dragons take on the second placed Eels.
MITSUBISHI Electric Bulldogs forward Adam Perry returns to the Dogs team for this Sunday's clash in Auckland against the Warriors. Perry suffered a gluteal tear (buttock injury) against the Raiders in Round 15.
NEWCASTLE Knights coach Michael Hagen has named his team to take on the Cowboys at Energy Australia Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Coach Hagans team is;
ROUND 18 of the Telstra Premiership sees Saints travel to Parramatta for a highly anticipated match against the highly fancied Eels. Following a dismal display preceding the bye where Saints were out-thought and out-classed by the talented young Tigers, St George Illawarra missed a golden opportunity to move into the Top 4 and finds itself tittering on the inner edge of the Top 8 with a perceived tough draw ahead.
AFTER a series of strong performances for Newtown in the Premier League, added to a solid outing as a replacement last week against the Broncos, former New Zealand Warrior Vince Mellars has earned a promotion into the Sharks starting side for the match with Souths this Saturday night.
Mellars has made steady improvement this season with coach Stuart Raper opting to give him an opportunity in the top grade in what is his favoured position of centre. The 105kg Kiwi was used as a back-rower during the last 20 minutes of the match against Brisbane last Sunday.
?Vince has been playing well in the second grade and due to that good form he will get his chance against Souths,? Raper said. ?At this stage Paul Mellor has been named on a five-man interchange bench and I will decide on the final make up of the team later in the week.?
The return of Danny Nutley from State of Origin commitments is the only other Sharks change, with the Queensland debutant taking over from Hutch Maiava in the run-on side. Maiava, who more than held his own against Shane Webcke and the Brisbane pack last week, reverts back to the interchange bench.
The only Sharks player unavailable for selection is Greg Bird, the Sharks utility player set to will miss the remainder of the season with a serious foot injury.
Now on 22 points and just one win in front of a log jam of teams fighting for top eight positions, the Sharks will be keen to beat the Rabbits and to secure the two competition points and consolidate their place amongst the leaders.
Souths will be without forward Brian Fletcher for Saturday night?s match, the former international having been stood down from the Sharks clash while also losing the club captaincy due to a racial abuse issue involving Parramatta?s Dean Widders last Sunday.
The Sharks v Souths clash will kick off at 5.30pm at Aussie Stadium. Shayne Hayne is to be the referee. In the Premier League Newtown play Souths, also at Aussie Stadium, that match getting underway at 3.30pm, while in the Jersey Flegg the Sharks play Souths at Redfern Oval, beginning at 1.30pm.
BULLOCKING prop Josh Miller says he will continue to play with fearless aggression after being recalled to the Canberra Raiders starting team for this Saturday?s match against the Melbourne Storm at Olympic Park.
EXCITING youngster Travis Burns has been chosen to make his NRL debut in The Sea Eagles side to play Penrith at Penrith Park on Saturday night.
PENRITH Panthers coach John Lang has named his team to take on the high flying Sea Eagles at Penrith Stadium on Saturday night.
Coach Langs team is;
NORTH Queensland Cowboys coach Graham Murray has named his side to travel to Newcastle to face the Knights on Sunday afternoon.
After the victory over the Warriors last Saturday night, Murray has been a little spoilt for choice with the return of his Origin rep players.
SEAN Hampstead has confirmed his position as the game?s best referee, with the ARL confirming his appointment as referee for the first State of Origin match at Stadium Australia next Wednesday.
AUSTRALIA coach Wayne Bennett is expecting a fiercely-competitive battle with Great Britain and New Zealand in the end-of-season Gillette Tri-Nations Series.
ANDREW Johns could be rushed into the Australian team for this year's Tri-Nations Test series if he can make it back onto the field for the National Rugby League finals.
THE results from last weekend's round for all grades are as follows: