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The Panthers are sweating on a fitness test for Jarome Luai on Monday as he bids to return early from a shoulder injury, but another backline star has been ruled out by a teammate.
While Luai’s fitness is still under the microscope, a fresh injury to the club’s marquee star has handed Penrith a huge finals scare.
Meanwhile, Kevin Walters is weighing up the potential return of two veterans in Marty Taupau and Corey Oates.
And the Storm are hopeful of stars Jahrome Hughes and Xavier Coates being back on deck.
Read on for all of the team news ahead of the preliminary finals.
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Storm steal victory to send Roosters out | 02:47
Penrith Panthers vs Melbourne Storm at Accor Stadium, 7.50pm AEST
Qualifying final Panthers team: 1. Dylan Edwards 2. Sunia Turuva 21. Luke Garner 4. Stephen Crichton 5. Brian To’o 6. Jack Cogger 7. Nathan Cleary 8. Moses Leota 9. Mitch Kenny 10. James Fisher-Harris 11. Scott Sorensen 12. Liam Martin 13. Isaah Yeo 14. Tyrone Peachey 15. Lindsay Smith 16. Spencer Leniu 17. Zac Hosking
Team Tips: The Panthers have been handed a huge finals scare with Nathan Cleary sent to hospital after suffering a finger injury at training. The Daily Telegraph are reporting the gun halfback has had scans and has been cleared of an serious damage, meaning he is a strong chance on taking the field. Meanwhile, Jarome Luai is set for a crunch fitness Test on Monday to determine his chances of recovering from a shoulder injury in time to play the Storm. “He’s doing really well with everything we have set out for him so far, but we’ve purposely held him back from that really uncontrolled physical stuff,” Panthers physio Pete Green told The Sydney Morning Herald. “Until he gets through that, we won’t know. It’s looking pretty good he will play, but it’s unfair to say either way. “Romy is a senior player, so I’d say the final decision will come down to how he feels. It will be a conversation for him and Ivan. At least one teammate believes Luai will line up for the prelim. “He should be good,” Stephen Crichton said after training on Sunday. “He was running around today and it was good to see him back out there with his loudmouth and energy.” Prop Matt Eisenhuth also expects Luai to take his place, offering to help test out the playmaker’s shoulder. “If he does need to do something like that, he’ll call out some of the bigger boys because that’s what he would do to show everyone he’s sweet. There might be one or two more tests he’s got to do but at the moment I’m backing him in,” Eisenhuth said. Luai’s good friend Brian To’o is also confident the five-eighth takes the field. “He’s been training well. Just given the nature of his injury he’s been going well so far. It’s good to see him back on the field again, it’s a miracle he’s back so soon and back on the field playing,” To’o told The Daily Telegraph. If Luai is fit he would come in at five-eighth for Jack Cogger. However, Cogger could vie with Tyrone Peachey for the bench utility role. Centre Izack Tago is racing the clock to return from a pectoral injury suffered at training which ruled him out of his side’s clash against the Warriors in the first week of finals.
However, according to To’o, he is only a slim chance of taking the field. “It just depends, he’s got some niggles but I’d probably rule him out,” To’o said. Luke Garner was his shock replacement against the Warriors and expected to hold the role if Tago fails to recover in time. Luke Sommerton is due back from a shoulder injury, but is unlikely to force his way into the squad.
Last week’s Storm team: 1. Nick Meaney 2. William Warbrick 3. Marion Seve 4. Justin Olam 5. Reimis Smith 6. Cameron Munster 21. Tyran Wishart 8. Tui Kamikamica 19. Bronson Garlick 16. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 11. Trent Loiero 12. Eliesa Katoa 13. Josh King 9. Harry Grant 10. Christian Welch 15. Tom Eisenhuth 17. Tariq Sims
Team Tips: Craig Bellamy said Jahrome Hughes (calf) and Xavier Coates (ankle) are a chance to return against the Panthers. Hughes is probably more likely at this stage and will be named and given every chance to prove his fitness. “I think they’re both a chance but Jahrome is a better chance than Xavier at the moment,” Bellamy said. “I think Xavier is still in a boot but having said that I’ve seen guys in boots for seven days and then they’re playing two days later. Storm skipper Christian Welch was confident Hughes would play. “I think he’s a good chance [next week], I think there was just a big risk of re-injury last night,” Welch said on Triple M. “I think we could have maybe strapped him up but I think he just didn’t want to put the team under pressure if it did go, so I guess we’re going to be facing a similar question [next week] and I guess that’s going to be up to Bellsa and Jahrome about what the risk appetite is there. The upside of having Jahrome play and then also the chance your seven gets injured and all of a sudden your bench rotation is getting disrupted a bit. Not sure what the coach will go with but a guy like Tyran Wishart really stepped up really well tonight. A good problem to have.” If Hughes is fit he will come in for Tyran Wishart despite his excellent display against the Roosters. Given Reimis Smith’s successful return on the wing, Coates won’t be risked unless he is 100 per cent. If Coates plays, Smith could be an option at centre with either Marion Seve or Justin Olam to make way. Bellamy will be reluctant to make too many changes but knows he needs his best side defensively and in attack to beat Penrith. Young Tonumaipea is also due back from a head cut, so there is a logjam of options in the outside backs for Bellamy if everyone is fit. Tui Kamikamica suffered a head knock in the final five minutes against the Roosters and will need to pass concussion protocols to play. Harry Grant is set to be named at No.9, but could start off the bench again with Bronson Garlick a chance to start at hooker as he did against the Roosters. Christain Welch was benched for the Roosters game with Nelson Asofa-Solomona starting at prop in a move Bellamy may also use against Penrith.
“He came super close to not playing!” | 13:06
Brisbane Broncos vs Warriors at Suncorp Stadium, 7.50pm AEST
Qualifying final Broncos team: 1. Reece Walsh 2. Jesse Arthars 3. Kotoni Staggs 4. Herbie Farnworth 5. Selwyn Cobbo 6. Ezra Mam 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Thomas Flegler 9. Billy Walters 10. Payne Haas 11. Kurt Capewell 12. Jordan Riki 13. Patrick Carrigan 14. Tyson Smoothy 15. Brendan Piakura 16. Kobe Hetherington 17. Keenan Palasia
Team Tips: The Broncos nearly have a full squad to choose from with Xavier Willison the only player in the casualty ward with an ankle injury. Kevin Walters’ biggest dilemmas seem to be whether to again leave out veterans Marty Taupau and Corey Oates. Jesse Arthars was preferred on the wing in the qualifying final with Oates a shock omission. Walters went with bench forwards Brendan Piakura, Kobe Hetherington and Keenan Palasia with no room for Taupau, but given a grand final berth is at stake experience will count for plenty against the Warriors.
Last week’s Warriors team: 1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 2. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 3. Rocco Berry 4. Adam Pompey 5. Marcelo Montoya 6. Te Maire Martin 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Addin Fonua-Blake 9. Wayde Egan 10. Mitchell Barnett 11. Jackson Ford 12. Marata Niukore 13. Tohu Harris 14. Dylan Walker 15. Jazz Tevaga 16. Bayley Sironen 17. Josh Curran
Team Tips: Andrew Webster revealed Shaun Johnson was close to not playing against the Knights, but he got through unscathed and is expected to line up against Brisbane. He was only given an early mark as a precaution when the game was out of the Knights’ reach. Bench forward Josh Curran copped a nasty finger dislocation against the Knights. Curran might need a needle and some strapping, but is expected to play in the preliminary final. Back-rower Marata Niukore has left the field clutching at a knee injury after an incident of “friendly fire” against the Knights but later returned to the field and is expected to play against the Broncos. Ali Leiataua is due back from a hamstring injury, but is unlikely to force his way into the 17.
The Post Team Tips, teams, preliminary finals, Jarome Luai, Jahrome Hughes, Nathan Cleary, Panthers vs Storm, Broncos vs Warriors, ins and outs, changes, injuries Originally Posted on www.foxsports.com.au