Brisbane and North Queensland have been forced into a combined 11 changes for their NRL matches this round due to heavy State of Origin representation.
The Broncos, who have six stars away in Queensland camp, have named two debutants in Jaydn S’ua and Tevita Pangai Junior for Friday’s match against the Wests Tigers, while the Cowboys will blood one.
Highly-rated fullback Jahrome Hughes will make play his first NRL game as a replacement for Maroons utility Michael Morgan, one of five regulars away on Origin duty, against St George Illawarra.
New Zealand-born five-eighth Hughes, who has been linked with a move to the Dragons at the end of the season, will face off against another off-contract Kiwi player in veteran Benji Marshall.
The Dragons No.7 has yet to decide his future as he battles a hamstring problem but will seek to improve his chances of earning a new contract against the Cowboys.
Jason Nightingale has been named at fullback in place of NSW centre Josh Dugan, while Joel Thompson (suspension) and Kurt Mann have been added to the team.
Joining Hughes for the Cowboys are youngsters Coen Hess and Javid Bowen, while the returning Ray Thompson comes in at halfback for Johnathan Thurston.
Broncos coach Wayne Bennett will have his club’s depth strongly tested with Greg Eden, Herman Ese-ese, Jai Arrow and Lachlan Maranta joining S’ua and Pangai Junior for the Baby Broncos.
Sorely-missed Canberra pair Shaun Fensom (shoulder) and Iosia Soliola (arm) are set to make their returns from injuries in Sunday’s fixture against Canterbury.
Bulldogs coach Des Hasler went with Adam Elliot and Danny Fualalo for Blues duo David Klemmer and Josh Jackson.
Injuries have required Newcastle coach Nathan Brown to rejig his rebuilding outfit, calling on Jaelyn Feeney to deputise for another injured rookie in Brock Lamb (ankle).
Cory Dennis, David Bhana, Pat Mata’utia and Sam Mataora are other new faces from the one that lost to West Tigers last week.
Jake Mamo starts at fullback for Dane Gagai.
“Even though he’s only been back a week, he played a bit of fullback last year and he’d probably be the logical for us at the minute,” Brown told reporters on Tuesday.
“Jake’s a young player. He’s played limited NRL, but the one thing you get from Jake is commitment and effort, which is what we need. We need a lot of that.”
The Knights take on a Parramatta side missing Michael Jennings, replaced by Vai Toutai.