June 6, 2023


stressful sport

Origin trio ruled out, brawling trio cleared, Smith, Nikora, Sims banned

9 min read

The three Origin players who suffered head knocks in the early stages of Wednesday night’s brutal decider will sit out Round 18 under the NRL’s concussion protocols.

Blues forward Cameron Murray and Queensland duo Lindsay Collins and Selwyn Cobbo are automatically out of club duty while there is doubt over Maroons hooker Harry Grant‘s ability to back up for Melbourne after he suffered a corked glute muscle.

Cobbo had not been selected for the Broncos but Collins will need to be replaced from the Roosters’ front row for their Gosford game against the Dragons and Murray was due to lead the Rabbitohs against Canterbury.

There are bound to be several other players who are unable to play for their clubs after the ferocious encounter.

Penrith coach Ivan Cleary had already opted to give his seven NSW reps a breather this Sunday with Nathan Cleary, Api Koroisau, Stephen Crichton, Isaah Yeo, Liam Martin, Brian To’o and Jarome Luai all not selected for the CommBank Stadium clash with the last-placed Wests Tigers.

Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, Dane Gagai and Matt Burton have escaped bans over their part in the Origin brawl early in the second half of Queensland’s 22-12 defeat.

Grant’s possible absence could compound the hooking problem at the Storm after Brandon Smith was banned for three matches on a contrary conduct charge at the NRL judiciary.

The match review committee referred his case directly to the judiciary panel after Smith called referee Adam Gee a cheat during last Thursday’s 28-6 thrashing at the hands of Cronulla at PointsBet Stadium. 

Smith accepted guilt and his counsel asked for a two-week ban, while the NRL argued for four weeks. Eventually, the panel split it down the middle.

“I’m not here to argue,” said Smith. “I’ve done the wrong thing. I just want to let everyone know I feel terrible and I’ll accept any consequence you come up with. I know I’ve done the wrong thing. In the tackle, I said ‘f*** me’ but that was not directed at the referee. I was super frustrated. I thought I deserved a penalty at the time.”

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 07: Brandon Smith of the Storm warms up during the round 17 NRL match between the Cronulla Sharks and the Melbourne Storm at PointsBet Stadium, on July 07, 2022, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Brandon Smith. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Melbourne also have fitness clouds over Cameron Munster (COVID-19) and second-rower Kenny Bromwich (ankle) but both have been selected. Veteran forward Felise Kaufusi is available after flying home from the US where he visited his sick father. 

Canterbury centre Aaron Schoupp has been ruled out of Sunday’s clash with Souths after testing positive to COVID-19 while Bunnies rookie Lachlan Ilias has been cleared after copping a nasty head knock last week. 

Wests Tigers pulled a surprise by naming Jackson Hastings at lock with Luke Brooks returning to halfback and Adam Doueihi moving back to five-eighth from centre.

Dragons veteran Tariq Sims will be suspended this weekend for the high shot on Rhys Kennedy which earned him a second trip to the sin bin in Sunday’s loss to Brisbane. 

Sharks forward Briton Nikora will be missing this week after copping a one-game ban for his tackle on Bromwich last Thursday. 

Knights prop David Klemmer accepted a $1000 fine after he was sent off late in the loss to Souths for using a forearm in a tackle. 


Cowboys v Sharks, 6pm at QCB Stadium

Cowboys: Prop Jordan McLean will be out of action for at least a few weeks after suffering a hamstring tear at Blues training last week, robbing him of an Origin debut. 

Tom Dearden and Tom Gilbert face the tough ask of backing up from Origin less than 48 hours after playing the decider. Origin squad members Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, Reece Robson and Chad Townsend have also been named. Valentine Holmes and Jeremiah Nanai have been rested though. Murray Taulagi is sidelined due to his bout of COVID with Brendan Elliot on his wing.

1. Scott Drinkwater 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow 4. Peta Hiku 5. Brendan Elliot 6. Tom Dearden 7. Chad Townsend 8. Jamayne Taunoa-Brown 9. Reece Robson 10. Coen Hess 11. Tom Gilbert 12. Connelly Lemuelu 13. Jason Taumalolo 14. Jake Granville 15. Luciano Leilua 16. Ben Hampton 17. Griffin Neame 18. Tomas Chester 19. Emry Pere 20. Kane Bradley 21. Ben Condon 22. Riley Price

Sharks: Nicho Hynes and Toby Rudolf are back from their isolation period due to COVID. That means Andrew Fifita will start on the bench while Blues Origin squad member Siosifa Talakai is on the reserves list. Briton Nikora has been suspended a game for a hi-drop tackle with Teig Wilton to start in the second row.

1. Will Kennedy 2. Sione Katoa 3. Jesse Ramien 4. Connor Tracey 5. Ronaldo Mulitalo 6. Matt Moylan 7. Nicho Hynes 8. Toby Rudolf 9. Blayke Brailey 10. Royce Hunt 11. Teig Wilton 12. Wade Graham 13. Dale Finucane 14. Aiden Tolman 15. Cameron McInnes 16. Braden Hamlin-Uele 17. Andrew Fifita 18. Braydon Trindall 19. Jesse Colquhoun 20. Kade Dykes 21. Siosifa Talakai 22. Lachlan Miller

Eels v Warriors, 7.55pm at CommBank Stadium

Eels: Brad Arthur has only prop Junior Paulo to worry about in Origin 3. Jake Arthur has been named on the bench and is set to play his first game since Round 8. Ryan Matterson (ribs) is not due back until next week.

1. Clinton Gutherson 2. Maika Sivo 3. Will Penisini 4. Waqa Blake 5. Bailey Simonsson 6. Dylan Brown 7. Mitchell Moses 8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 9. Reed Mahoney 10. Junior Paulo 11. Shaun Lane 12. Isaiah Papali’i 13. Marata Niukore 14. Makahesi Makatoa 15. Jakob Arthur 16. Oregon Kaufusi 17. Ky Rodwell 18. Tom Opacic 19. Elie El Zakhem 20. Nathan Brown 21. Ofahiki Ogden 22. Hayze Perham

Warriors: Broncos-bound fullback Reece Walsh sat out the homecoming win over the Tigers due to COVID-19. He returns this week with Chanel Harris-Tavita going back to five-eighth.

1. Reece Walsh 2. Marcelo Montoya 3. Jesse Arthars 4. Adam Pompey 5. Edward Kosi 6. Chanel Harris-Tavita 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Addin Fonua-Blake 9. Wayde Egan 10. Tohu Harris 11. Euan Aitken 12. Josh Curran 13. Jazz Tevaga 14. Freddy Lussick 15. Bunty Afoa 16. Aaron Pene 17. Jack Murchie 18. Eliesa Katoa 20. Rocco Berry 21. Daejarn Asi 22. Pride Petterson-Robati 23. Jackson Frei


Roosters v Dragons, 3pm at Central Coast Stadium

Roosters: James Tedesco, Angus Crichton, Daniel Tupou and Lindsay Collins are in action on Wednesday night. Joey Manu will once again have the reponsibilities at No.6 with Luke Keary still sidelined from last month’s head knock.

1. James Tedesco 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Billy Smith 4. Paul Momirovski 5. Joseph Suaalii 6. Joseph Manu 7. Sam Walker 8. Lindsay Collins 9. Sam Verrills 10. Siosiua Taukeiaho 11. Angus Crichton 12. Sitili Tupouniua 13. Victor Radley 14. Connor Watson 15. Egan Butcher 16. Nat Butcher 17. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 18. Drew Hutchison 19. Matthew Lodge 20. Lachlan Lam 21. Fletcher Baker 22. Kevin Naiqama 23. Adam Keighran 24. Terrell May

Dragons: Fijian winger Mikaele Ravalawa will be missing for a month after tearing a hamstring while trying to stop a try against Brisbane on Sunday. Ben Hunt has been named but could be very sore after the extra responsibility of having no Cameron Munster in Origin on Wednesday night. Jack de Belin starts in place of the suspended Tariq Sims.

1. Cody Ramsey 2. Mathew Feagai 3. Moses Suli 4. Zac Lomax 5. Tautau Moga 6. Talatau Amone 7. Ben Hunt 8. Francis Molo 9. Andrew McCullough 10. Blake Lawrie 11. Jack Bird 12. Jaydn Su’A 13. Jack de Belin 14. Moses Mbye 15. Josh Kerr 16. Aaron Woods 17. Jaiyden Hunt 18. Michael Molo 19. Jayden Sullivan 20. Tyrell Sloan 21. Billy Burns 22. Josh McGuire

Sea Eagles v Knights, 5.30pm at 4 Pines Park 

Sea Eagles : Front-rower Josh Aloiai missed the last-start win over Melbourne due to a concussion but has been named 18th man. Coach Des Hasler has been in COVID-19 isolation but is due to return by game day. 

1. Reuben Garrick 2. Jason Saab 3. Morgan Harper 4. Tolutau Koula 5. Christian Tuipulotu 6. Kieran Foran 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Sean Keppie 9. Lachlan Croker 10. Toafofoa Sipley 11. Haumole Olakau’atu 12. Andrew Davey 13. Jake Trbojevic 14. Dylan Walker 15. Josh Schuster 16. Martin Taupau 17. Taniela Paseka 18. Josh Aloiai 19. Ben Trbojevic 20. Ethan Bullemor 21. Kurt De Luis 22. Kaeo Weekes

Knights: Adam O’Brien has Kalyn Ponga, Dane Gagai and Blues debutant Jacob Saifiti to check on after Origin 3. Bradman Best is on the sidelines after suffering a thumb injury.

1. Kalyn Ponga 2. Edrick Lee 3. Dane Gagai 4. Enari Tuala 5. Dominic Young 6. Anthony Milford 7. Adam Clune 8. David Klemmer 9. Jayden Brailey 10. Daniel Saifiti 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Mitchell Barnett 13. Kurt Mann 14. Simi Sasagi 15. Jacob Saifiti 16. Pasami Saulo 17. Brodie Jones 18. Leo Thompson 19. Chris Randall 20. Lachlan Fitzgibbon 21. Hymel Hunt 22. Jake Clifford

Titans v Broncos, 7.35pm at Cbus Super Stadium

Titans: The good news for the Titans is they moved off the bottom of the ladder with the two points from the bye last round. The bad news is they’re still 3-13 and five wins adrift of eighth. Aaron Booth will make his club debut at hooker and there’s also a new five-eigth in Tanah Boyd. David Fifita’s second cousin Sosefo (JoJo) will make his NRL debut on the wing.

1. AJ Brimson 2. Sosefo Fifita 3. Phillip Sami 4. Patrick Herbert 5. Corey Thompson 6. Tanah Boyd 7. Toby Sexton 8. Moeaki Fotuaika 9. Aaron Booth 10. Isaac Liu 11. David Fifita 12. Beau Fermor 13. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui 14. Erin Clark 15. Jaimin Jolliffe 16. Herman Ese’ese 17. Paul Turner 18. Sam McIntyre 19. Jamayne Isaako 20. Greg Marzhew 21. Brian Kelly 22. Kevin Proctor

Broncos: Payne Haas (shoulder) is likely to need at least another week before the star prop can return while Brisbane. The Broncos have decided to rest Origin players Selwyn Cobbo and Kurt Capewell.

1. Tesi Niu 2. Delouise Hoeter 3. Kotoni Staggs 4. Brenko Lee 5. Jordan Pereira 6. Ezra Mam 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Keenan Palasia 9. Billy Walters 10. Ryan James 11. Zac Hosking 12. Jordan Riki 13. Kobe Hetherington 14. Jake Turpin 15. Rhys Kennedy 16. Thomas Flegler 17. Tyson Gamble 18. Deine Mariner 19. Brendan Piakura 20. Corey Jensen 21. Tyrone Roberts 22. Logan Bayliss-Brow 23. Corey Oates 24. Patrick Carrigan


Tigers v Panthers, 2pm at CommBank Stadium

Tigers: Veteran prop James Tamou sat out last weekend’s loss to Parramatta with a calf injury. He’s been named on the bench against the Panthers. Adam Doueihi will move to the five-eighth role with Luke Brooks switched to halfback and Jackson Hastings packing down at lock.

1. Daine Laurie 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Starford To’a 4. James Roberts 5. Ken Maumalo 6. Adam Doueihi 7. Luke Brooks 8. Joe Ofahengaue 9. Fa’amanu Brown 10. Zane Musgrove 11. Justin Matamua 12. Kelma Tuilagi 13. Jackson Hastings 14. Fonua Pole 15. James Tamou 16. Luke Garner 17. Jake Simpkin 18. Austin Dias 19. Jock Madden 20. Junior Tupou 21. Asu Kepaoa 22. Alex Seyfarth

Panthers: With seven players lining up for the Blues, coach Ivan Cleary is looking at resting a few of his stars now the representative schedule is over. Nathan Cleary, Api Koroisau, Stephen Crichton, Isaah Yeo, Liam Martin, Brian To’o and Jarome Luai will all be able to put their feet up on Sunday afternoon.

1. Dylan Edwards 2. Taylan May 3. Izack Tago 4. Robert Jennings 5. Charlie Staines 6. Kurt Falls 7. Sean O’Sullivan 8. Moses Leota 9. Mitch Kenny 10. James Fisher-Harris 11. Viliame Kikau 12. Chris Smith 13. Matt Eisenhuth 14. Soni Luke 15. Scott Sorensen 16. Spencer Leniu 17. Jaeman Salmon 18. Sunia Turuva 19. J’maine Hopgood 20. Lindsay Smith 21. Thomas Jenkins 22. Christian Crichton

Storm v Raiders, 4.05pm at AAMI Park 

Storm: Brandon Smith was not selected for Sunday’s game and was rubbed out for three matches at his judiciary hearing. Cameron Munster should be good to go after COVID-19 cost him a spot for the Maroons on Wednesday night. Felise Kaufusi is back from personal leave in the second row.

1. Ryan Papenhuyzen 2. Nick Meaney 3. Marion Seve 4. Justin Olam 5. Dean Ieremia 6. Cameron Munster 7. Jahrome Hughes 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Harry Grant 10. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Kenny Bromwich 13. Josh King 14. Tyran Wishart 15. Tui Kamikamica 16. Alec MacDonald 17. Jordan Grant 18. Jayden Nikorima 19. Chris Lewis 20. Tom Eisenhuth 21. Young Tonumaipea 22. Bronson Garlick

Raiders: Only one win out of the eight after their narrow loss to the Dragons before the bye, they are 11th on percentages and need to upset the Storm in Melbourne to keep pace. Ricky Stuart has kept an almost identical team to the won that lost to the Dragons in Round 16.

1. Xavier Savage 2. Nick Cotric 3. Matthew Timoko 4. Sebastian Kris 5. Jordan Rapana 6. Jack Wighton 7. Jamal Fogarty 8. Josh Papali’i 9. Zac Woolford 10. Joseph Tapine 11. Hudson Young 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Ryan Sutton 14. Tom Starling 15. James Schiller 16. Adam Elliott 17. Corey Horsburgh 18. Brad Schneider 19. Ata Mariota 20. Corey Harawira-Naera 21. Emre Guler 22. Albert Hopoate

Bulldogs v Rabbitohs, 6.15pm at Accor Stadium

Bulldogs: Tevita Pangai jnr injured his ankle in the last-start defeat to Cronulla before the bye while debutant forward Declan Casey suffered a heavy concussion. He’s been named in the reserves while the Bulldogs will be hoping three days is enough time for Matt Burton to be ‘fresh’ from Origin in the five-eighth role. Aaron Schoupp (COVID) was ruled out on Wednesday.

1. Jake Averillo 2. Jacob Kiraz 3. Aaron Schoupp 4. Braidon Burns 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Matt Burton 7. Kyle Flanagan 8. Max King 9. Jeremy Marshall-King 10. Paul Vaughan 11. Josh Jackson 12. Corey Waddell 13. Tevita Pangai jnr 14. Zach Dockar-Clay 15. Kurtis Morrin 16. Joe Stimson 17. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 19. Matt Dufty 20. Declan Casey 21. Bailey Biondi-Odo 22. Jackson Topine 23. Chris Patolo

Rabbitohs: Alex Johnston and Mark Nicholls return. Halfback Lachlan Ilias has also been named despite suffering. a head knock but he’ll be monitored in the coming days.

1. Latrell Mitchell 2. Alex Johnston 3. Taane Milne 4. Isaiah Tass 5. Jaxson Paulo 6. Cody Walker 7. Lachlan Ilias 8. Tevita Tatola 9. Damien Cook 10. Mark Nicholls 11. Keaon Koloamatangi 12. Jai Arrow 13. Cameron Murray 14. Kodi Nikorima 15. Jed Cartwright 16. Siliva Havili 17. Thomas Burgess 18. Daniel Suluka-Fifita 19. Richard Kennar 20. Davvy Moale 21. Shaq Mitchell 22. Blake Taaffe 23. Ben Lovett

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