Brisbane welcome back stars for GF rematch

Brisbane will trot out a full-strength line-up when they head north to take on arch rivals North Queensland in Friday’s NRL grand final rematch.

Andrew McCullough (knee), Adam Blair (suspension) and Alex Glenn (calf) have been re-inserted into the starting line-up for the ladder leaders against a similarly healthy Cowboys unit in Townsville.

Broncos prop Josh McGuire said the team had missed their under-rated hooker McCullough.

“Macca brings that stability in defence and he’s a great communicator,” McGuire said.

“We did miss him the last couple of weeks. I know I feel a lot safer when he is next to me in the line.”

New Gold Coast hooker Nathan Peats has been named on the bench for their Saturday date with Penrith.

Struggling Newcastle also get a handful of stars back for their clash with the Wests Tigers, with Trent Hodkinson (knee), Nathan Ross (hamstring), Sam Mataora (hamstring) and Pauli Pauli named.

Tigers recruit Matt Ballin will make his club debut off the bench in place of the injured Robbie Farah (concussion), completing his comeback from a knee reconstruction.

“He came back to play last week, came to the club with the knee injury and he’s been really professional and diligent in what he’s done to get back on the field,” Tigers co-captain Dene Halatau said on Tuesday.

South Sydney playmaker Cody Walker gets a start on the wing for the injured Michael Oldfield against a St George Illawarra side missing Benji Marshall (hamstring) and Joel Thompson (suspension).

Dragons coach Paul McGregor said they would again test Marshall’s problematic hamstring to figure out the latest issue.

“We’re going to get a revisit to the physio this afternoon and we’ll find out a lot more then. But it’s highly unlikely (he will play),” McGregor said.

Jacob Host and Josh McCrone will deputise.

Warriors veteran Simon Mannering returns from a mouth issue and Issac Luke has been re-installed in the No.9 to take on Canberra, minus Shaun Fensom (shoulder). Jeff Lima (hand) is back on the bench.

Manly have lost Martin Taupau for three weeks due to his lifting tackle, but the Sea Eagles will be buoyed by having Steve Matai, Josh Starling and Jamie Buhrer on deck to face Cronulla.

An unchanged Parramatta haven’t included skipper Kieran Foran, who remains in a Brisbane rehabilitation clinic as he battles a personal issue.

Penrith utility Tyrone Peachey, fresh from last week’s hat-trick, has also been officially named in the centres for the first time after filling in there for the past two matches.

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