#KiwiNRL Encyclopedia: Round Waru

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Rabbitohs vs Broncos

Rabbitohs

Starters: Nada.

Bench/Extended Bench: /Mawene Hiroti.

Broncos

Starters: Jamayne Isaako, Alex Glenn.

Bench/Extended Bench: Nada.

Doc's Word

The days of Kodi Nikorima being a Brisbane Bronco appear to be over as he's conveniently missing for this game vs Rabbitohs and is being linked to a move back to Aotearoa. This has me wondering about Alex Glenn, who has now seen Nikorima and Jordan Kahu depart Brisbane despite Glenn having the most speculation about his future over the past 12 months. Glenn is enjoying plenty of game time under Anthony Seibold and his performances without Nikorima will be interesting to watch as the Broncos go through a few changes.

Cowboys vs Titans

Cowboys

Starters: Jordan Kahu.

Bench/Extended Bench: /Jason Taumalolo.

Titans

Starters: Kevin Proctor.

Bench/Extended Bench: Moeaki Fotuaika/Jesse Arthars.

Doc's Word

Jordan Kahu slides back to fullback with Te Maire Martin sidelined via injury, allowing Kahu to settle into his favoured role. Having been kinda underwhelming since moving north, Kahu will need to offer a spark from fullback; the type of spark that isn't in his 9runs/73m averages for this season. Jason Taumalolo is on the extended bench, which will be a boost for the Cowboys and could be the difference between a win or loss vs Gold Coast.

Sharks vs Storm

Sharks

Starters: Sosaia Feki, Sione Katoa, Briton Nikora.

Bench/Extended Bench: Braden Hamlin-Uele/Ronaldo Mulitalo.

Storm

Starters: Jahrome Hughes, Jesse Bromwich, Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Kenny Bromwich.

Bench/Extended Bench: Brandon Smith.

Doc's Word

Cronulla Handed an NRL debut to Ronaldo Mulitalo on the wing last week, serving up a confuzzing little #KiwiNRL situation. Mulitalo is an Ellerslie Eagles junior from Auckland, but was named in the Queensland Emerging Maroons squad late last which suggests that Mulitalo is rolling down the Aussie route. Mulitalo drops out of the top-17 with Sione Katoa coming in to join Sosaia Feki on the wings and we also have the return of Briton Nikora, who is likely to line up opposite Kenny Bromwich.

Nikora had been in fantastic form before a suspension and with Shaun Johnson replaced by Kyle Flanagan, Melbourne will look to send plenty of traffic towards Flanagan with Cameron Munster pulling strings. This will be an interesting test for Nikora's defence, while his hard running will be a focus for Melbourne's defence.

Raiders vs Panthers

Raiders

Starters: Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Bailey Simonsson.

Bench/Extended Bench: Siliva Havili, Iosia Soliola.

Panthers

Starters: Caleb Aekins, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Malakai Watene-Zelezniak, James Fisher-Harris.

Bench/Extended Bench: Sione Katoa/Jarome Luai.

Doc's Word

As per NRL.com, Northland's Caleb Aekins churned out 18runs/224m, 66 post contact metres, 3 tackle busts and 2 offloads for Penrith Panthers in his first appearance of the season. Remember that Aekins was up around 300m in his NRL debut last season and clearly goes alright running the footy, despite not appearing to have any major x-factor. The stats between NRL.come and Fox Sports differ greatly as Fox has Aekins with 17runs/159m from the loss to Rabbitohs, but I bring up the Fox stats because that has Aekins ranked 4th for fullbacks in average run metres behind Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, James Tedesco and Clinton Gutherson.

Guess who is 5th in run metres for fullbacks? Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad and this week we have a juicy battle between Nicoll-Klokstad and Aekins, two fullback prospects who have looked at ease in this role.

Sea Eagles vs Bulldogs

Sea Eagles

Starters: Martin Taupau.

Bench/Extended Bench: Toafofoa Sipley/Zach Dockar-Clay.

Bulldogs

Starters: Reimis Smith, Ofahiki Ogden, Corey Harawira-Naera.

Bench/Extended Bench: Fa'amanu Brown/Kieran Foran, Renouf To'omaga.

Doc's Word

#KiwiNRL nerds will remember the name Zach Dockar-Clay and after a stint in England, then with Townsville Blackhawks, Dockar-Clay is named on Manly Sea Eagles extended bench this week. Dockar-Clay has been dabbling in halfback and hooker for Blacktown Sea Eagles in reserve grade and with Daly Cherry-Evans out for a few weeks, there is a slither of an opportunity for Dockar-Clay to grab some NRL footy.

Another nerdy #KiwiNRL name is Fa'amanu Brown, who has struggled to settle into any kind of NRL role. Brown is named on the bench for this week and this is a bit weird given that Jeremy Marshall-King is starting and then Michael Lichaa is also on the bench; three hookers in the 17. This points to changes for game time, but purely based on the team list, Brown could be getting a crack ahead of Lichaa which is fairly interesting.

Roosters vs Tigers

Roosters

Starters: Joseph Manu, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Sio Siua Taukeiaho, Isaac Liu.

Bench/Extended Bench: Sitili Tupouniua/Poasa Fa'amausili.

Tigers

Starters: Esan Marsters, Benji Marshall, Ben Matulino, Josh Aloiai.

Bench/Extended Bench: Elijah Taylor/Russell Packer.

Doc's Word

All sorts of enticing #KiwiNRL battles here, led by Joseph Manu vs Esan Marsters and even though they will be on different edges, this is about the battle of the Kiwis centres. Marsters has a greater impact than Manu with 16.3runs/140m, 3.9 tackle busts and 2.9 offloads per game, but it's Manu who is part of a slick Roosters team which doesn't demand as much of Manu, as Marsters with the Tigers.8.58

Manu only averages 10runs/84m, 1.7 tackle busts and 0.8 offloads. Somewhat understandable given that the Roosters have plenty of weapons, most notably their centre on the other edge Latrell Mitchell. However, Manu averages 8.4m/run and that's only slightly less than Marsters' 8.58m/run which is an example of how efficiency is often more valuable than work rate.

The battle of the middles is going to be immense as well, with Isaac Liu joining Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Sio Siua Taukeiaho starting for the Roosters. They'll come up against Ben Matulino and Josh Aloiai, which presents an interesting gauge for Aloiai as he's a middle forward who resembles Taukeiaho/Liu with his footwork and mobility.

Warriors vs Knights

Warriors

Starters: All but Blake Green, Lachlan Burr.

Bench/Extended Bench: All the boys.

Knights

Starters: Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Danny Levi.

Bench/Extended Bench: Herman Ese'ese, James Gavet/Mason Lino.

Doc's Word

Danny Levi was at his scooting best in Newcastle's win over Parramatta last week with 8 dummy half runs for 106m. Combine that with James Gavet coming off the bench for 5runs/53m in a super efficient performance and Herman Ese'ese's 5runs/47m effort for a strong #KiwiNRL contribution to the Knights domination of the Eels middle.

The move back to the bench could be the key for Gavet as he played similar minutes (30mins) but offered far more impact than in previous weeks. Gavet now returns to Mt Smart to face the Warriors and one would expect him to be out to make a point.

Eels vs Dragons

Eels

Starters: Brad Takairangi, Marata Niukore.

Bench/Extended Bench: Peni Terepo, Manu Ma'u/Josh Hoffman.

Dragons

Starters: Jordan Pereira.

Bench/Extended Bench: Nada.

Doc's Word

Manu Ma'u returned to the Eels team last week off the bench and with Shaun Lane and Marata Niukore both playing 80mins, Ma'u mainly operated through the middle. In 42mins, Ma'u had 17runs/140m and a try, which presents an intriguing opportunity for Ma'u to make a permanent shift to the middle given his rugged style and mobility. The combination of Ma'u and Peni Terepo popping off the bench vs Dragons could provide the Eels with an advantage as they are a we bit more dynamic than the Dragons middles.

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