Matt Gillett has been named to make a shock return for Brisbane in round 21 of the NRL, but Johnathan Thurston is sidelined with a hamstring injury and Robbie Farah remains in reserve grade.
Gillett was expected to be sidelined for another fortnight due to a shoulder injury suffered in State of Origin II. But he has been rushed back into Wayne Bennett’s side for Thursday night’s clash with the Sydney Roosters at Allianz Stadium.
It is a timely return for Gillett, given Sam Thaiday and Josh McGuire are missing through suspension. Gillett takes Thaiday’s place in the back row and Herman Ese’ese comes into the Broncos’ 17 for McGuire.
For the Roosters, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (leg) is replaced in the home side’s 17 by Dale Copley. Blake Ferguson has been retained at fullback despite another underwhelming effort at the back in the loss to Melbourne.
Thurston injured his hamstring in North Queensland’s thrashing of Canterbury last week and coach Paul Green is remaining coy on how long his superstar playmaker will be out. Ray Thompson was named at halfback in place of Thurston for Saturday night’s clash with Melbourne in Townsville.
“According to everyone else, it is two games (he is sidelined) … but he will be back sooner rather than later,” Green said.
Farah hasn’t been named by coach Jason Taylor for the Tigers’ match with Parramatta on Saturday at ANZ Stadium. Instead, young rake Manaia Cherrington has been named on an extended bench. Dene Halatau has been named at No.9.
Farah will play NSW Cup for the second successive week.
Beau Scott returns for the Eels.
Canterbury coach Des Hasler has named the same 17, despite the 36-0 loss to the Cowboys, for Friday night’s ANZ Stadium fixture against St George Illawarra. Jacob Host and Will Matthews are on an extended bench for the Dragons for the suspended Leeson Ah Mau.
After spending plenty of time on the bench in recent weeks, young star Tuimoala Lolohea will play at fullback for the Warriors on Saturday against Penrith in Auckland. David Fusitua moves to the wing.
Winger Joe Burgess has been dumped by South Sydney after his butter-fingered effort in the loss to Manly. Michael Oldfield replaces him for Sunday’s match against Canberra at ANZ Stadium.
Jack Cogger replaces Jarrod Mullen (hamstring) at five-eighth for Newcastle’s trip to Brookvale Oval on Sunday to meet Manly. Jake Mamo returns from suspension at fullback for the Knights. Dane Gagai moves to centre.
James Maloney is back from a leg injury for Cronulla’s visit on Monday night to the Gold Coast. Greg Bird returns from suspension for the home side.