#KiwiNRL Encyclopedia: Round Tekau Ma Tahi

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Eels vs Panthers

Eels

Starters: Josh Hoffman, Marata Niukore, Manu Ma'u.

Bench/Extended Bench: Peni Terepo, Brad Takairangi.

Panthers

Starters: Dean Whare, Jarome Luai, Sione Katoa, James Fisher-Harris.

Bench/Extended Bench: Moses Leota/Caleb Aekins.

Doc's Word

Plenty of chopping and changing for both teams here as they try to get back into a splash of form. Penrith Panthers coach Ivan Cleary has cut Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, which won't do Watene-Zelezniak's hopes of sealing an Aotearoa Kiwis wing spot any favours as he wasn't in commanding form prior to that and will now have limited opportunities ahead of the Kiwis Test vs Tonga.

Jarome Luai does come into the halves and the former Junior Kiwis captain will partner Nathan Cleary, offering a glimpse at what the Panthers could look like sans James Maloney. Luai has snuck on to the Panthers bench in recent weeks, mainly operating at dummy half though and this is a great chance for him to influence a game from the halves. I'm not sure why James Fisher-Harris gets shifted around so much as he is back in the middle after playing on the right edge last week and ideally, Fisher-Harris can nail one specific role; last year's coach Anthony Griffin did the same shuffling with Fisher-Harris early in 2018.

Parramatta Eels have Brad Takairangi now coming off the bench with Josh Hoffman starting at centre. Hopefully this doesn't change the 80 minute edge forward usage for Marata Niukore, although Niukore was slightly underwhelming last week in the loss to North Queensland Cowboys. Niukore had 7 runs for 60m and nothing else, except for 8 ineffective tackles (no missed tackles).

Sea Eagles vs Titans

Sea Eagles

Starters: Martin Taupau.

Bench/Extended Bench: Nada.

Titans

Starters: Jesse Arthars, Moeaki Fotuaika, Kevin Proctor.

Bench/Extended Bench: Nada.

Doc's Word

Jesse Arthars starts at centre again and he'll be eager to build on a solid, yet not spectacular outing last week vs Bulldogs. Playing against a weak-ish Bulldogs team was the perfect chance for Arthars to flex and now he comes up against a Sea Eagles team that won't present those type of opportunities. Arthars wasn't heavily involved last week with 10 runs for 83m, although signs of potential were there as Arthars' post contact metres (31m) were similar to Brian Kelly (34m) and Dale Copley (31m) who both had 14 runs.

Anthony Don had just 8 runs, playing outside Arthars, meaning that the Titans right edge was super quiet last week. If Arthars can go looking for more footy and get up around 15 runs, I'll be very interested to see how effective his running game is.

Knights vs Roosters

Knights

Starters: Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Danny Levi.

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

Roosters

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

Bench/Extended Bench: Sitili Tupouniua.

Doc's Word

A bit of #KiwiNRL news here as late last week the Roosters announced that they had extended the contracts of Sitili Tupouniua and Poasa Fa'amausili. Tupouniua is now signed until the end of 2021 and Fa'amausili to 2022 and apparently there was interest from Aoteaora Warriors in Tupouniua. Fa'amausili is still waiting for further opportunities with the top-17 and Tupouniua has now established himself as a key member of the Roosters bench.

Raiders vs Cowboys

Raiders

Starters: Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Bailey Simonsson.

Bench/Extended Bench: Siliva Havili, Joseph Tapine, Iosia Soliola.

Cowboys

Starters: Jordan Kahu, Jason Taumalolo.

Bench/Extended Bench: Nada.

Doc's Word

Joseph Tapine returns to the Raiders team, named on the bench and I'm frothing to see Tapine play among this Raiders forward pack. Canberra have rolled out the most underrated forward pack in the NRL this season and that has come largely without Tapine, now with Tapine likely to be injected through the middle there will be a new wrinkle added to the work of the Raiders as Tapine could partner Iosia Soliola as a dynamic duo either side of half-time.

Alternatively, Tapine will come on to replace Hudson Young who has quickly established himself on an edge for the Raiders in the absence of Tapine and Luke Bateman. I'd be looking to plow through the Cowboys middle though with speed and footwork, which the Eels lacked in their loss to Cowboys and which the Raiders have in low key abundance.

Warriors vs Broncos

Warriors

Starters: All but Blake Green, Lachlan Burr.

Bench/Extended Bench: All but Karl Lawton

Broncos

Starters: Jamayne Isaako, Alex Glenn.

Bench/Extended Bench: Nada.

Doc's Word

If Dallin Watene-Zelezniak is a chance of missing out on Kiwis spot vs Tonga, Jamayne Isaako is in even more danger. Isaako is playing NRL footy which is a good start and rolled out a solid 8 runs for 97m, but he'll need to be far busier and impactful in his work carting the footy up to pose a threat to those Kiwis wing contenders ahead of him. One of those is Ken Maumalo and this battle will offer an interesting gauge for both, but more so Isaako and whether he can come close to matching Maumalo's influence.

Rabbitohs vs Tigers

Rabbitohs

Starters: Mawene Hiroti.

Bench/Extended Bench: Nada.

Tigers

Starters: Esan Marsters, Benji Marshall, Ben Matulino.

Bench/Extended Bench: Josh Aloiai, Michael Chee-Kam/Elijah Taylor.

Doc's Word

Another Kiwis wing prospect is Mawene Hiroti, who showed his promise in the Rabbitohs win over Raiders. Hiroti had 2 line breaks and 4 tackle busts in his 14runs/96m, which isn't overly efficient but the line breaks and tackle busts more than make up for that. Hiroti has to string games together and establish himself as a first choice outside back for the Rabbitohs, however signs were there for Hiroti that he's a low key #KiwiNRL prospect to keep tabs on.

Bulldogs vs Storm

Bulldogs

Starters: Reimis Smith, Kieran Foran, Jeremy Marshall-King, Corey Harawira-Naera.

Bench/Extended Bench: Ofahiki Ogden/Raymond Faitala-Mariner.

Storm

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

Bench/Extended Bench: Brandon Smith.

Doc's Word

Jahrome Hughes is named at fullback and Ryan Papenhuyzen on the bench, which is great news for Hughes. The pressure is now on Hughes though given that Papenhuyzen demanded attention with his speed and class in the Storm's win over West Tigers. It's now up to Hughes to ensure that he is the leading fullback in Melbourne and coming up against the Bulldogs should present Hughes with plenty of chances to showcase his funk.

We may also be graced with a battle between Corey Harawira-Naera and Kenny Bromwich out on the edges. The quality of the Storm should offer a better platform for Bromwich, while Harawira-Naera has a bit more scope to pop up in different spots and his running ability sees him cutting all sorts of angles.

Dragons vs Sharks

Dragons

Starters: Jordan Pereira.

Bench/Extended Bench: Nada.

Sharks

Starters: Sosaia Feki, Briton Nikora.

Bench/Extended Bench: Braden Hamlin-Uele/Sione Katoa.

Doc's Word

Who would have thought that this season, in a Cronulla Sharks team with three #KiwiNRL players, two of the three would be Briton Nikora and Braden Hamlin-Uele. It was tough outing for the Sharks in losing to Sea Eagles at home, however the two young #KiwiNRL forwards rolled out status-quo solid performances. Nikoria had 13runs/107m and 47 post contact metres (the most of any Shark) and 3 tackle busts, while Hamlin-Uele's 44mins with 13runs/117m, 1 try/line break and 3 tackle busts. Considering that Paul Gallen had 11runs/81 in similar minutes to Hamlin-Uele, Hamilin-Uele's effort is rather notable.

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