Round 21: Sydney Roosters v Penrith preview
Once again, the Roosters will have their depth tested on Saturday night as they look to push towards an unlikely top-four berth.
In a welcome boost though prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves is free to play after being found not guilty at the judiciary.
The Roosters have been written off all year but continue to push on, scoring a 28-0 win over the Eels in their last start.
Trent Robinson's men made an error-riddled start to that game but Parramatta also struggled with its completion rate early and crucially the Roosters were able to capitalise.
This time around they have a far sterner task in the form of a desperate Panthers side.
Penrith was handed a reality check last week in a 37-10 defeat to Melbourne. No-one was expecting the undermanned Panthers to really test the Storm last week but even with their absences six tries conceded is simply not good enough. Coach Ivan Cleary said just as much post-game.
Nathan Cleary is also a chance of making a comeback after being included on the extended bench.
Stephen Crichton though will be sidelined due to suspension with Paul Momirovski recalled to first grade in his place.
If Cleary plays though Matt Burton will take Capewell's spot with Matt Eisenhuth likely the man to drop out. Young gun Taylan May could also be in line for a debut if Cleary is simply playing ducks and drakes by naming Capewell at centre.
Who to watch: The Roosters are fortunate Jared Waerea-Hargreaves is available to play this week as he shapes as their best hope of sticking it to a monster Panthers pack. Even without James Fisher-Harris, Penrith boast an impactful forward rotation only boosted by the inclusion of Pangai Jr. Waerea-Hargreaves though has taken on an increased leadership role in the Roosters side and pushed himself to play extra minutes when needed as the club battled an injury crisis. If Cleary does play look out for the Roosters prop to put plenty of pressure on the halfback in his first game back.
All eyes will be on the Panthers bench to see when coach Cleary injects late-season recruit Tevita Pangai Jr. Yes, there are question marks over Pangai Jr's fit in the Penrith squad and whether the club risks upsetting team unity but for the moment that is just speculation. All we can go off is on-field results and Pangai Jr adds plenty. As the league's most prolific offloading machine he will only make the Panthers a tougher unit to handle as the game drags on. He also has the streak of aggression needed to take it to Waerea-Hargreaves.
The favourite: The returning troops see Penrith strong favourites here.
My tip: The Roosters have a habit of proving doubters wrong and they may well do it again here. Even still though, it is too hard to tip against Penrith given the quality of the calvary it is welcoming back. Penrith by 18.