While St George Illawarra await the impending arrival of Josh Dugan, coach Steve Price is set to hand under-20s graduate Adam Quinlan his first-grade debut as the Dragons deal with a bulging back-line casualty ward.
Quinlan, 20, is in line to play fullback against Gold Coast on Sunday, with Jason Nightingale shifting back to his preferred wing position as cover for the injured Brett Morris.
Morris will miss up to a month of football with a knee injury, while veteran centre Matt Cooper is battling to be fit with a toe injury. Nathan Green should again replace Cooper, while the Dragons could be boosted by the early return of Cameron King from a knee injury after the hooker trained in Wollongong on Thursday. Gold Coast are expected to be unchanged.
NSW Origin skipper Paul Gallen (knee) won’t play in Cronulla’s match against an injury-depleted Wests Tigers with both teams to be 1-17.
Jeff Lima could start on the interchange bench for South Sydney, while North Queensland’s Scott Moore and Scott Bolton are likely to be omitted from an oversized bench.
Canterbury took an 18-man squad to New Zealand on Thursday, with Tim Browne staying in Sydney, for the clash against a Warriors line-up that has shifted Glen Fisiiahi to fullback to replace an injured Kevin Locke.
Brisbane duo Josh McGuire and David Stagg are in line to return from injuries, with Jarrod Wallace and David Hala the two men likely to drop off the interchange bench. Parramatta are expected to be 1-17.
A knee injury will keep Newcastle pivot Jarrod Mullen out for at least a week with Kurt Gidley moving to five-eighth to face an unchanged Canberra.
After playing his first NRL game since August 2010 in Melbourne’s first loss of the season last week, Brett Finch is expected to drop off an extended Storm bench to play Penrith.
Manly coach Geoff Toovey is still deciding on Brett Stewart’s replacement after the fullback was ruled out for at least a month with a chipped bone in his back. Jorge Taufua is set to switch from the wing to fullback with either Peta Hiku or Esi Tonga to play on the flank against the Roosters.