IT’S A BIG WEEKEND OF NRL FOR:
* JOSH MORRIS – Dropped from the NSW State of Origin side for the first time since 2011, Morris will have plenty to prove in the next few weeks ahead of the second game. Morris’ defence has never been doubted at representative level, but he will look to add to the five tries he has scored in 11 games so far this season to show he still has what it takes with ball in hand.
* RAY THOMPSON – North Queensland’s two wins in the pre-Origin rounds last year helped set up their premiership push after a poor start to the season, and Paul Green will want more of the same out of Ray Thompson this Saturday against St George Illawarra. Thompson returns to his preferred position of halfback and will need to steer around a largely inexperienced Cowboys side.
* BENJI MARSHALL – Has struggled to get on the park, let alone lead St George Illawarra to victory this year, but Marshall needs to turn things around if he wants a career in the NRL post-2016. The Dragons are one-from-five when he plays this season, and the off-contract Marshall has set up just one try and one line break this season.
* COREY NORMAN – Also off contract, Norman – charged with drug offences during the week – needs to turn things around for Parramatta. Was one of the Eels’ best in the opening two months but all eyes will be on him on Monday night and needs to show he can shine through off-field dramas for the next two months to earn the asking price he wants for next season.
* PARRAMATTA EELS – It’s not just Corey Norman who is under pressure at Parramatta, they all are. The original success story of the season now need 12 wins from their last 13 games to make the finals and their run needs to start against bottom-of-the-table Newcastle. Two byes, the Gold Coast and Origin-depleted South Sydney follow, so a miracle is still not out of the question.