THE NRL PLAYERS WITH THE MOST TO PROVE IN THIS WEEKEND’S FINAL TRIALS
1. Peter Wallace
Wallace’s short-term future in the Penrith halves is under threat from young gun Te Maire Martin and skipper Matt Moylan. While the 30-year-old is likely start the year in the No.7 jumper, his spot in Anthony Griffin’s best 17 is uncertain.
2. Robbie Farah
Farah has weathered the storm following his falling out with Wests Tigers coach Jason Taylor and will start at No.9 in round one. But he wants to be an 80-minute player and still has something left to prove, with hooking options Mania Cherrington and Matt Ballin in the squad.
3. Ben Barba
Does the former Dally M medallist have a spot in the Cronulla side? Jack Bird is all but certain to start the year at fullback. With the reduction in the interchange, can coach Shane Flanagan afford to carry a bench utility?
4. Sam Burgess
All eyes will be on Slammin’ Sam in his return to rugby league following his rugby union sojourn. Rabbitohs fans will remember him for his heroic performance in the 2014 grand final but can he reach those heights again?
5. Cody Walker
With Luke Keary suspended for round one, the Souths No.6 jumper is Walker’s for the taking. He had some good touches in the Charity Shield and is a long-term prospect.
6. Joe Burgess
The English import has a golden opportunity to lock down a wing spot in the Sydney Roosters’ World Club Challenge clash with St Helens on Saturday morning (AEDT) but has young gun Latrell Mitchell breathing down his neck.
7. Cameron McInnes
The Rabbitohs No.9 jumper is down to a two-horse race with McInness and Damien Cook to battle it out in their final trial against the Gold Coast. McInnes has his nose in front after being named to start against the Titans however he was outpointed by Cook in the Charity Shield.
8. Jaelen Feeney
Feeney is in the running to make his NRL debut for Newcastle in round one in the fullback jersey vacated by Kurt Gidley. Even though he came through the ranks in the halves, he has done enough to convince coach Nathan Brown he should be ahead of Jake Mamo as the Knights’ No.1.
9. Brad Abbey
The highly-rated 19-year-old has a golden chance to stake a claim for a debut after being named at fullback for Canterbury. With Brett Morris and Will Hopoate injured, he has a chance to impress Des Hasler.
10. Josh Dugan
While his first grade spot is not at stake, where Dugan will start for the Dragons remains to be seen. It’s anticipated he will be moved from fullback to centre, with Kurt Mann to slot into the Dragons No.1 jumper. AAP sz/imc