NRL teams name player selection for first round fixtures

Steve Turner of the Bulldogs makes a line break during the NRL trial match between the Canterbury Bulldogs and the Newtown Jets at Belmore Sports Ground on February 10, 2013 in Sydney, Australia.
Steve Turner of the Bulldogs makes a line break during the NRL trial match between the Canterbury Bulldogs and the Newtown Jets at Belmore Sports Ground on February 10, 2013 in Sydney, Australia. Mark Nolan / Getty Images

RAY Thompson has won the halfback spot for the Cowboys for their round one clash with the Bulldogs in Gosford on Saturday night, with Robert Lui named in jersey No.19 on a six-man bench that includes tyro forwards Tariq Sims and Jason Taumalolo.

Lui, who missed all bar the opening match last year through suspension, was tipped to partner Johnathan Thurston in the halves but Thompson has been given the nod.

English import Scott Moore has been named at hooker.

Steve Turner is Bulldogs' fullback, replacing Ben Barba, but young Raiders import Drury Low is expected to start there despite being named on the wing.

Inexperienced forwards Martin Taupau, Dale Finucane and David Klemmer have been selected in the absence of Sam Kasiano, James Graham and Frank Pritchard.

As expected, Sonny Bill Williams is on the bench for the Roosters in the premiership opener against the Rabbitohs tomorrow night, but the selection bombshell is unknown prop Sam Moa.

The 26-year-old, who had one NRL match with the Sharks in 2008, was signed from English Super League club Hull, and has impressed during the trials.

In a peculiar decision, the Rabbitohs have named captain Michael Crocker on the bench with Chris McQueen and Ben Lowe favoured in the back row.

Injury has struck the Raiders early with three of their big guns - Terry Campese, Jarrod Croker and Josh Dugan - failing to make the first-round team.

The Panthers, their opponents on Sunday afternoon, have six newcomers in their 18-man squad, including Kiwi Test players Sika Manu and Lewis Brown in the second row.

Nathan Fein, at 33, has turned the clock back 13 seasons by returning to the No.7 jersey at the Dragons for their clash with the Storm in Melbourne on Sunday.

Storm has named giant Kiwi second rower Tohu Harris for his debut, with Lagi Setu - returning from a two-year religious sabbatical - on the bench.

Also on the bench are veteran Luke Bailey and boom new signing Dave Taylor for the Titans' clash with the Sharks at Cronulla on Sunday night. Luke Douglass and Ben Ridge have been named to start while Albert Kelly has won the halfback berth and ex-Rooster Brad Takairangi will partner Jamal Idris in the centres.

Five newcomers will debut for the Sharks, with Chris Heighington on the bench.

Todd Carney has recovered from an Achilles injury and will play against the Titans, but the biggest selection surprise is the centre pairing of Ricky Leutele and Matthew Wright.

The Tigers have named 20-year-old former Dragons' NYC captain Jack Buchanan for his debut against the Knights on Monday night, while Travis Waddell, signed just this week, will play hooker for the Knights.


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Topics:  canterbury-bankstown bulldogs north queensland cowboys nrl rugby league

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