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NRL Match Preview: Sydney Roosters vs Cronulla Sharks

Teams

Roosters: Anthony Minichiello (c), Nene Macdonald, Mitchell Aubusson, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, James Maloney, Mitchell Pearce (vc), Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (vc), Jake Friend (vc), Sam Moa, Dylan Napa, Sonny Bill Williams, Frank-Paul Nuuausala Bench: Isaac Liu, Remi Casty, Heath L’Estrange, Kane Evans, Siosiua Taukeiaho

Sharks: Michael Gordon, Sosaia Feki, Jonathan Wright, Ricky Leutele, Jacob Gagan, Fa’manu Brown, Jeff Robson, Siosaia Vave, Michael Lichaa, Bryce Gibbs, Anthony Tupou, Wade Graham (c), Tinirau Arona Bench: Tupou Sopoaga, Sam Tagatasese, Junior   Rogica, Tim Robinson, Sione Masima, Pat Politoni

Preview

With Game III of the State of Origin series taking place, Sydney Roosters head coach Trent Robinson has been forced into a trip of changes. Aidan Guerra, Daniel Tupou and Boyd Cordner’s selection means Nene McDonald, who has been promoted from the under 20’s for his third appearance of the season, and Dylan Napa start for Roosters. French international Remi Casty and New Zealand international Kane Evans replace Boyd Cordner.

After making his first appearance of the season against Manly Sea Eagles last weekend, in the 24-16 defeat, Heath L’Estrange retains his place in the interchanges.

Roosters were victorious by 24-18 against Cronulla in Round 7, with a double for Shaun Kenny-Dowall the inspiration. Sydney will feel confident of beating a Sharks side who have suffered both off and on the field this season.

Rooted to the bottom of the table, Cronulla saw head coach Peter Sharp resign after a tumultuous week where playmaker Todd Carney was sacked after a lewd photo emerged on social media. Sharks captain Paul Gallen launched a scathing attack in June on Sharp, claiming results and performances were poor because of the effort of their head coach.

Sharks are merely playing for pride for the rest of the season, but this weekend will see them without Gallen and Luke Lewis because of Origin. Injuries to Andrew Fifita, Chris Heighington and John Morris mean three potential debuts for Cronulla youngsters.

Tim Robinson, Sione Masima and Pat Politoni are in the interchanges with fellow talent Fa’amanu Brown partnering experienced Jeff Robson in the halves.

That battle at the halves could be key in the game, with Sharks hoping to some resilience after a tough week at the club. Roosters pose a difficult threat and I expect them to come out easy winners against a Sharks side who are just looking forward to putting a terrible season behind them.

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