Friday night: South Sydney v Parramatta, Homebush
While State of Origin omissions don’t have a big impact on either team (Michael Jennings the exception), both are struggling. Souths are 13th after losing to Melbourne in Perth and Parramatta have lost their last two games to sit 10th. The Rabbitohs have a big inclusion, with George Burgess coming back, while the Eels would be down on confidence after losses to the Sydney Roosters and Canberra. Souths should win a tight one.
SOUTHS BY SIX
Saturday night: NZ Warriors v Brisbane, Auckland
With six players away for Origin duties (Darius Boyd, Corey Oates, Anthony Milford, Matt Gillett, Josh McGuire and Sam Thaiday), this is genuine danger game for the Broncos. The Warriors have lost four of their last five (the only win a lucky one against the Sydney Roosters), so the Broncos might be able to sneak away from Auckland with two points. Benji Marshall plays his second game for the Broncos and will be keen for a big performance in his home country. If the 14th-placed Warriors want to stay away from the wooden spoon, they must win this one. Even though the Broncos are weakened, the momentum from the six-game winning streak – and the Warriors’ general hopelessness – should be enough.
BRISBANE BY FOUR
Saturday night: Cronulla v Canterbury, Cronulla
Cronulla have won three straight since their shock home loss to the Gold Coast, while Canterbury have lost two straight to drop from the top eight. Both teams are equally affected by Origin (Cronulla miss four players, Canterbury three), so the Sharks’ home advantage and strong recent form should help them win.
CRONULLA BY EIGHT
Sunday afternoon: Canberra v Sydney Roosters, Bruce Stadium
After a promising win against Parramatta, this is a massive game for Canberra. The Roosters are missing five Origin players (Dylan Napa, Aidan Guerra, Blake Ferguson, Mitchell Pearce, Boyd Cordner), while Canberra only miss Josh Papalii, with new signing Dave Taylor to finally play first grade. With St. George-Illawarra getting two points for the bye, the Roosters will slip from the top four if they lose, with a tough home game against Brisbane in round 13. Canberra will be desperate to build on the momentum of last week, especially at home. That should be enough against a weakened Roosters.
CANBERRA BY SIX