NRL round 17 preview panel

The preview panel for round 17 of the NRL.



Penrith v Gold Coast at Panthers Stadium, 6pm

Head to head: Panthers 12, Titans 7, drawn 1

Last clash: Round 5, 2019 - Titans 30 bt Panthers 24 at Cbus Super Stadium

Nathan Cleary's name is on the Panthers bench but he seems unlikely to play, leaving James Maloney to run the show again - something he's done with aplomb during their current five-match winning streak. It wouldn't surprise if Gold Coast's players are distracted given the cloud hanging over besieged coach Garth Brennan's job.

Key: Jarrod Wallace - The Titans yardage man will want to make a statement following his omission from Origin III.

Tip: Panthers

Newcastle v Canterbury at McDonald Jones Stadium, 7:55pm

Head to head: Bulldogs 26, Knights 21, drawn 2

Last clash: Round 9, 2019 - Knights 22 bt Bulldogs 10 at Suncorp Stadium

The Bulldogs have won four straight games against the Knights in Newcastle but the competition cellar-dwellers face a star-studded outfit on Friday. The hosts will be hoping five of their Origin stars can back up just two days after the decider, while Canterbury are without Kieran Foran (hamstring).

Key: Newcastle halfback Mitchell Pearce will still be buzzing after lifting his first Origin Shield and could produce his sixth man-of-the-match performance in two months.

Tip: Knights


South Sydney v Manly at ANZ Stadium, 3pm

Head to head: Sea Eagles 81, Rabbitohs 75, drawn 2

Last clash: Round 9, 2019 - Sea Eagles 13 bt Rabbitohs 12 (GP) at Brookvale Oval

Rabbitohs enforcer Sam Burgess (shoulder) returns and will be determined to get Souths' season back on track following four straight losses. His return relegates Maroons revelation Ethan Lowe to the bench. Manly have named their three Origin stars in Tom Trbojevic, Jake Trbojevic and Daly Cherry-Evans and are chasing four consecutive wins for the first time in two years.

Key: Manly lead the NRL in line breaks (5.2 per game) and if Cherry-Evans put the Trbojevic brothers in space then Souths will be looking at five straight losses.

Tip: Sea Eagles

Brisbane v Warriors at Suncorp Stadium, 5.30pm

Head to head: Broncos 25, Warriors 18, drawn 1

Last clash: Round 11, 2019 - Broncos 8 bt Warriors 2 at Mt Smart Stadium

Both teams kept their finals hopes alive with last-gasp wins on the road last week. Broncos skipper Darius Boyd produced the goods at five-eighth and gets another shot there against former teammate Kodi Nikorima, whose form for the Warriors has has dipped in recent weeks. Origin returnees will bolster the hosts more than the rep-free Kiwi club.

Key: Xavier Coates - The high-flying Broncos teenage winger looked impressive against the Sharks but confronts some big bodies on the Warriors flanks.

Tip: Broncos

Melbourne v Cronulla at AAMI PARK, 7.35pm

Head to head: Storm 23, Sharks 15, drawn 1

Last clash: Round 8, 2019 - Sharks 20 bt Storm 18 at PointsBet Stadium

Storm skipper Cameron Smith becomes the first to play 400 NRL games and Melbourne are expecting a bumper crowd of 25,000 to celebrate the historic milestone. The Sharks will be out to spoil the party in what shapes as the match of the round. Melbourne have named all six of their Origin stars, while barnstorming prop Andrew Fifita (suspension) returns for Cronulla. The Sharks have won five of their past seven against Melbourne, no other team can boast that record.

Key: Enforcer Fifita has to run for more than 150 metres if the Sharks are any chance of ruining Cameron Smith's special night.

Tip: Storm


Sydney Roosters v North Queensland at Central Coast Stadium, 2pm

Head to head: Roosters 26, Cowboys 11, drawn 1

Last clash: Round 21, 2018 - Roosters 26 bt Cowboys 20 at Allianz Stadium

Latrell Mitchell and Luke Keary looked back close to their best for the Roosters last week in an ominous sign for the rest of the league. Jake Friend and Siosiua Taukeiaho are slated to return from injuries, only adding to their potency. Recuperated Matt Scott and, maybe, Coen Hess are set to inject some muscle to the Cowboys middle.

Key: Gavin Cooper - There would be few better ways for the understated veteran to celebrate 300 games than knocking over the NRL's glamour outfit.

His 300th game

Tip: Roosters

Wests Tigers v Parramatta at Bankwest Stadium, 4.05pm

Head to head: Eels 22, Wests Tigers 15, drawn 2

Last clash: Round 6, 2019 - Eels 51 bt Wests Tigers 6 at Bankwest Stadium

These teams opened a brand spanking Bankwest Stadium in round six but only one team turned up as the Eels thrashed Wests 51-6. But a reverse result this week would see the Tigers leapfrog Parramatta into seventh on the ladder. Wests icon Benji Marshall plays his 300th NRL game almost 16 years to the day since making his debut for the Tigers. Wests skipper Moses Mybe will back up from Origin, while the Eels have only made one change.

Key: Parramatta halfback Mitchell Moses has the most try assists (16) in the competition and could ruin Benji's milestone match.

Tip: Eels

St George Illawarra v Canberra at WIN Stadium, 6.10pm

Head to head: Raiders 17, Dragons 11, drawn 2

Last clash: Round 11, 2018 - Dragons 25 bt Raiders 18 at Glen Willow Oval, Mudgee

Canberra are still seething after dropping a 16-point lead against the Eels last start and will come out firing against the Dragons. St George have named their four Origin forwards on the reserves list but all could start alongside Maroons five-eighth Corey Norman. The Raiders welcome back Blues winger Nick Cotric (ankle) and they've named Jack Wighton and Josh Papalli to back up from Origin.

Key: Dragons forward Tariq Sims will be fuming after suspension denied him being part of the Blues series win on Wednesday. He could be the difference.

Tip: Raiders