NRL Teams Analysis - 2017 Round 26

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Sam's 26th and final Teams Analysis article is in for 2017! Get all the ins and outs ahead of the last round of the NRL premiership.

North Queensland Cowboys

1. Lachlan Coote 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Javid Bowen 4. Kane Linnett 5. Antonio Winterstein 6. Te Maire Martin 7. Michael Morgan 8. John Asiata 9. Jake Granville 10. Scott Bolton 11. Gavin Cooper 12. Ethan Lowe 13. Jason Taumalolo 14. Ben Hampton 15. Coen Hess 16. Corey Jensen 17. Shaun Fensom

In - Nil

Out - Nil

Analysis - The Cowboys equation is simple. Defeat the Broncos and they are playing finals football, should they lose, they then rely on other results going their way. After injury after injury, the Townsville based side are finally unchanged from their vital victory over the Tigers last week. North Queensland and Brisbane's recent clashes are now famous for being close affairs and with so much on the line expect nothing else on Thursday night.   

Brisbane Broncos

1. Darius Boyd 2. Corey Oates 3. James Roberts 4. Tautau Moga 5. Jordan Kahu 6. Anthony Milford 7. Kodi Nikorima 8. Sam Thaiday 9. Ben Hunt 10. Adam Blair 11. Alex Glenn 12. Matt Gillett 13. Josh Mcguire 14. Benji Marshall 15. Tevita Pangai 16. Joe Ofahengaue 17. Herman Essese

In - Jordan Kahu, Benji Marshall, Joe Ofahengaue, Tevita Pangai

Out - Korbin Sims, David Mead, Jaydn Su'a, Jai Arrow

Analysis - The Broncos were smashed at Suncorp Stadium 52-34 by fellow finals combatants the Eels in a shocking display from Wayne Bennett's men with just two weeks out from this year's finals series. Korbin Sims is out for the remainder of the season with a fractured forearm, which sees Sam Thaiday start in the front row. Jordan Kahu returns from injury to the wing, replacing David Mead. Tevita Pangai and Joe Ofahengaue join the bench for Jai Arrow and Jaydn Su'a. The bounce back will be paramount as the Broncos can finish as high as second on a low as fourth after this round.

Weather Watch - Fine

Parramatta Eels

1. Will Smith 2. Semi Radradra 3. Michael Jennings 4. Brad Takairangi 5. Kirisome Auva'a 6. Corey Norman 7. Mitchell Moses 16. Siosaia Vave 9. Cameron King 10. Tim Mannah 11. Manu Ma'u 12. Tepai Moeroa 13. Nathan Brown 8. Daniel Alvaro 15. Kenny Edwards 17. Suaia Matagi 20. Beau Scott

In - Manu Ma'u

Out - Frank Pritchard

Analysis - The Eels thrashed the Broncos in a huge upset to open Round 25 and have now stormed into the Top 4 and a big win over the Rabbitohs could see Parramatta finish as high as second if results go their way. Manu Ma'u returns to the second row, which sees Kenny Edwards back to the pine and Frank Pritchard drop back to the extended bench. Parramatta's attack has been sensational in the last fortnight, but it is their defence that will need to stiffen if they are to go deep into this year's finals series. Kaysa Pritchard, Beau Scott and Josh Hoffman have all been named to return from injury in the extended squad and will push for late inclusions with the finals just around the corner.

South Sydney Rabbitohs

9. Damien Cook 2. Campbell Graham 4. Tyrell Fuimaono 5. Robert Jennings 1. Bryson Goodwin 6. Cody Walker 21. Luke Kelly 8. Thomas Burgess 14. Robbie Farah 15. George Burgess 11. John Sutton 16. Kyle Turner 13. Cameron Murray 17. Dean Britt 18. Jason Clark 19. David Tyrrell 20. Siosifa Talakai

In - Dean Britt

Out - Zane Musgrove

Analysis - South Sydney were put to the sword by the premiership favourites the Storm when the Bunnies were annihilated 64-6 at AAMI Park. Last week's loss snapped a three game winning streak and Michael Maguire will need to get his side's heads back in the game and finish their season strong for their diehard supporter base. The loss of Alex Johnson at the back was telling and Cody Walker has again been named at five-eighth but will likely push into the custodian role, with John Sutton expected to switch to the halves as per last week. Dean Britt comes onto the bench for Zane Musgrove in the only change.     

Weather Watch - Fine

Sydney Roosters

1. Michael Gordon 5. Blake Ferguson 4. Mitchell Aubusson 18. Joseph Manu 2. Latrell Mitchell 6. Luke Keary 7. Mitchell Pearce 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9. Jake Friend 15. Sio Siua Taukeiaho 11. Boyd Cordner 3. Ryan Matterson 13. Isaac Liu 14. Zane Tetevano 16. Kane Evans 17. Connor Watson 19. Victor Radley

In - Nil

Out - Nil

Analysis - The Roosters pulled off a huge win last week, defeating the defending premiers Cronulla at Shark Park and now return to Allianz Stadium to secure second spot on the NRL ladder. The Bondi boys have made no changes to their side for the clash with the Titans and Trent Robinson will be looking for another huge effort in the last round of the regular season. With the Titans side decimated by injury, the Roosters are expected to have too much fire power at home this week and will go in red hot favourites.

Gold Coast Titans

1. Jarryd Hayne 2. Anthony Don 3. Phillip Sami 4. Leivaha Pulu 5. William Zillman 6. Kane Elgey 7. Ashley Taylor 8. Morgan Boyle 9. Pat Politoni 10. Agnatius Paasi 11. Kevin Proctor 12. Joe Greenwood 13. Max King 14. Jamal Fogarty 15. Nathaniel Peteru 17. Ben Nakubuwai 18. Keegan Hipgrave

In - Pat Politini, Nathaniel Peteru, Eddy Pettybourne, Ben Nakubuwai, Jamal Fogarty

Out - Jarrod Wallace, Nathan Peats, Dale Copley, Paterika Vaivai, Tyrone Roberts

Analysis - The Titans were defeated at home 26-14 to the Bulldogs last start in a disappointing performance given all the spotlight the side had on them in the build up after Neil Henry was sacked and most of the blame pointed towards marquee signing Jarryd Hayne. Jarrod Wallace has been suspended for three weeks and will miss this match, while the injury curse continues with Dale Copley, Tyrone Roberts, Nathan Peats and Paterika Vaivai all out. Leivaha Pulu is the shock replacement at centres, with Kane Elgey, Morgan Boyle, Pat Politoni and Joe Greenwood all joining the starting side. Kevin Proctor has redeemed himself and will be captaining the side in the final round of a horror season for the Titans.   

Weather Watch - Fine

Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles

1. Tom Trbojevic 2. Matthew Wright 3. Dylan Walker 4. Brian Kelly 5. Akuila Uate 6. Blake Green 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Darcy Lussick 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. Martin Taupau 11. Frank Winterstein 12. Curtis Sironen 13. Jake Trbojevic 14. Lewis Brown 15. Lloyd Perrett 16. Brenton Lawrence 17. Addin Fonua-blake

In - Curtis Sironen

Out - Shaun Lane

Analysis - The Sea Eagles pulled off a miracle when they were down by seven points against the Warriors last Sunday with just eight minutes left in the match. Some Tom Trbojevic magic and a Daly Cherry-Evans field goal in Golden Point ended the Raiders season and kept their finals hopes alive going into this week's match. It is now do or die again this week, as a win at Brookvale Oval against the Panthers will see Manly secure a position in the Top 8, where a loss could see them miss the finals altogether if the Dragons defeat the Dogs. In some good news for the home side, Curtis Sironen returns to the backrow after a long injury layoff, replacing Shaun Lane who has done a great job in Sironen's absence.

Penrith Panthers

1. Dean Whare 2. Josh Mansour 3. Tyrone Peachey 4. Waqa Blake 5. Dallin Watene Zelezniak 6. Tyrone May 7. Nathan Cleary 8. James Tamou 9. Peter Wallace 10. Regan Campbell-Gillard 11. Corey Harawira 12. Isaah Yeo 17. Trent Merrin 14. Sione Katoa 15. Bryce Cartwright 16. Tim Browne 13. James Fisher-Harris

In - Dean Whare

Out - Dylan Edwards

Analysis - Penrith's seven match winning streak came to an end with a narrow loss to a desperate Dragons outfit and will now face an equally desperate Manly outfit it a perfect rehearsal for finals football next week, with it unlikely the Panthers fall away with a loss. In a huge blow, rookie fullback Dylan Edwards is out, with Dean Whare the shock replacement, despite not having played fullback since 2014. Skipper Matt Moylan has been named in the extended squad and could return to in the #1 jersey given the form of Tyrone May in recent weeks.  

Weather Watch - Fine

Melbourne Storm

1. Billy Slater 2. Suliasi Vunivalu 3. William Chambers 4. Curtis Scott 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Cameron Munster 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Cameron Smith 10. Jordan McLean 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Tohu Harris 14. Kenneath Bromwich 16. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 17. Slade Griffin 18. Robbie Rochow 21. Nate Myles

In - Nil

Out - Nil

Analysis - The Storm absolutely put the competition on notice with a ruthless thrashing of South Sydney last week, despite being six points clear at the summit and the Minor Premiership in their possession. Melbourne now welcome a crest fallen Raiders to AAMI Park, whose season is now over. Craig Bellamy looks to have his troops in a take no prisoners' mood heading into the finals and has made no changes to the demolition squad from last week.

Canberra Raiders

1. Jack Wighton 2. Nick Cotric 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Joseph Leilua 5. Jordan Rapana 6. Blake Austin 7. Aidan Sezer 8. Junior Paulo 9. Josh Hodgson 10. Shannon Boyd 11. Josh Papalii 15. Joseph Tapine 16. Dave Taylor 12. Elliot Whitehead 13. Iosia Soliola 14. Kurt Baptiste 17. Luke Bateman

In - Sia Soliola

Out - Clay Priest

Analysis - Canberra's season of lofty expectations has officially come to an end as results did not go their way after their convincing 46-28 win over the Knights at Canberra Stadium last week. Sia Soliola returns to the side after copping a hefty suspension for a high shot on ironically Billy Slater, the last time these two teams met in Round 20. This sees Joseph Tapine move back to the bench and Clay Priest out of the 17. Canberra have a good record against the Storm in Melbourne and will be looking to finish off a disappointing season with a bang.  

Weather Watch - Showers    

Newcastle Knights

1. Nathan Ross 2. Ken Sio 3. Dane Gagai 4. Peter Mata'utia 5. Shaun Kenny-dowall 6. Jack Cogger 7. Trent Hodkinson 8. Jacob Saifiti 9. Danny Levi 10. Josh King 11. Lachlan Fitzgibbon 12. Jamie Buhrer 13. Mitchell Barnett 14. Joe Wardle 15. Tyrone Amey 16. Sam Stone 17. Mickey Paea

In - Tyrone Amey

Out - Daniel Saifiti

Analysis - The Knights suffered back to back losses, after failing to overcome the Raiders last week in Canberra. The Knights now return to Hunter Stadium for their final game, where they face the defending premiers in the Sharks.  Prop Daniel Saifiti will miss the match through injury, which sees brother Jacob start at prop with Tyrone Amey handed his NRL debut from the bench. The Knights are all but certain to pick up their third straight wooden spoon, but they will be much improved in 2018.

Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks

1. Valentine Holmes 2. Sosaia Feki 20. Jesse Ramien 4. Ricky Leutele 5. Gerard Beale 6. James Maloney 7. Chad Townsend 8. Andrew Fifita 9. Jayden Brailey 10. Matt Prior 11. Luke Lewis 3. Kurt Capewell 13. Paul Gallen 14. Jayson Bukuya 15. Chris Heighington 16. Jeremy Latimore 17. James Segeyaro

In - Jeremy Latimore

Out - Sam Tagataese

Analysis - The Sharks loss to the Roosters sees them slip to fifth with a round remaining and they will be desperate to get a win over the lowly Knights in order to give them a shot at a late play for the Top 4. Sam Tagataese is out and has been replaced by Jeremy Latimore on the bench in the only change, while NSW back Jack Bird has been named on the extended bench and looms as likely inclusion before finals next week.     

Weather Watch - Possible Showers    

St George Illawarra Dragons

1. Matthew Dufty 2. Nene Macdonald 3. Josh Dugan 4. Timoteo Lafai 5. Jason Nightingale 6. Gareth Widdop 7. Kurt Mann 14. Tariq Sims 9. Cameron McInnes 10. Paul Vaughan 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Joel Thompson 13. Jack de Belin 8. Leeson Ah Mau 15. Hame Sele 16. Blake Lawrie 17. Josh McCrone

In - Josh Dugan

Out - Kalifa Faifai Loa

Analysis - The Dragons will know their fate by the time this match rolls around on Sunday afternoon at ANZ Stadium. Should either of the Cowboys or Sea Eagles lose then their season will progress with a win over their arch rivals the Bulldogs. The big story out of the Dragons camp was departing star Josh Dugan missing the team bus and was subsequently dropped for the win over the Panthers. Dugan has been named again at centre, however whether he stays there remains to be seen, with Taane Milne and Kailifa Faifai Loa named on the extended bench.  

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs

1. William Hopoate 2. Chase Stanley 3. Josh Morris 4. Brenko Lee 5. Marcelo Montoya 20. Josh Reynolds 7. Moses Mbye 8. Aiden Tolman 9. Michael Lichaa 10. James Graham 11. Josh Jackson 12. Adam Elliot 13. David Klemmer 6. Matt Frawley 15. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 16. Danny Fualalo 17. Francis Tualau

In - Chase Stanley

Out - Brett Morris

Analysis - The Bulldogs have made it two wins in a row, when they blew the Titans away early on the Gold Coast last Saturday and Canterbury certainly won't be doing their bitter rivals the Dragons any favours come Sunday afternoon. Former Dragon Brett Morris has been ruled out with a rib injury, which sees Chase Stanley come onto the wing as his replacement. The Bulldogs have also named club legend Josh Reynolds in the extended squad and ‘the Grub' will be odds on to return at five-eighth in what will be his final game in the blue and white, along with prop Sam Kasiano who will depart for the Storm in 2018.  

Weather Watch - Possible Showers    

Wests Tigers

1. James Tedesco 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Esan Marsters 4. Kevin Naiqama 5. Malakai Watene-Zelezniak 6. Tuimoala Lolohea 7. Luke Brooks 8. Aaron Woods 17. Jack Littlejohn 10. Tim Grant 11. Joel Edwards 12. Josh Aloiai 13. Matthew Eisenhuth 14. Alex Twal 15. Sauaso Sue 16. Bayley Sironen 19. Jeremy Marshall-King

In - Elijah Taylor, Luke Brooks, Kevin Naiqama

Out - Matt McIllwrick, Michael Chee Kam, Ava Seumanufagai 

Analysis - The Tigers face the Warriors in the last match at Leichardt Oval for departing Tigers James Tedesco and Aaron Woods in a huge game for the club and their fans. Wests welcome back some key personnel who were missing from last week's capitulation against the Cowboys, with Luke Brooks, Elijah Taylor and Kevin Naiqama all returning with the Tigers hoping to end their season with a win.


1. James Tedesco 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Esan Marsters 4. Kevin Naiqama 5. Malakai Watene-Zelezniak 6. Tuimoala Lolohea 7. Luke Brooks 8. Aaron Woods 17. Jack Littlejohn 10. Tim Grant 11. Joel Edwards 12. Josh Aloiai 13. Matthew Eisenhuth 14. Alex Twal 15. Sauaso Sue 16. Bayley Sironen 19. Jeremy Marshall-King

In - Nil

Out - Nil

Analysis - The Warriors have now equaled their worst ever losing streak when they somehow blew a late eight point lead in their last home game at Mt Smart Stadium last Sunday. The Warriors will be desperate to finish the season with a win and Shaun Johnson was impressive in his return from injury last week.

Weather Watch - Possible Showers