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10th June 2020, 14:01 | nrl

NRL - Week Five Preview

NRL - Week Five Preview

By's Brad Walter

Former England rugby union international Ben Te'o will play his first NRL match since the 2014 grand final, after being called up for Brisbane's match against Manly with just three training sessions alongside his Broncos team-mates to prepare.

Te'o, who played 16 rugby union Tests for England, made his last NRL appearance alongside England legend Sam Burgess in South Sydney's historic 2014 premiership defeat of James Graham's Canterbury Bulldogs.

Like Canberra winger Jordan Rapana, he had been contracted to play rugby union in Japan this season, but the COVID-19 crisis created an opportunity for Te'o to return to the code he played 152 matches before moving to Ireland to switch codes with Leinster in 2015.

The 33-year-old signed a minimum wage contract with the Broncos last week and was called up by coach Anthony Seibold to add some experience to a young forward pack after last weekend's 59-0 thumping by Sydney Roosters.

"We only need him to play a small role off the bench for us. He's played in the biggest games in both rugby codes around the world," Seilbold said. "It's an opportunity to have a bigger body in our group and he's got a lot of experience."

English winger Herbie Farnworth has retained his place on the wing in the youthful Broncos side, which last week featured 10 players who had played less than 30 NRL matches.

The Sea Eagles are coming off a 19-16 loss to outright competition leaders Parramatta, after a controversial no-try ruling against winger Rueben Garrick in the final minute because of a forward pass from Tom Trbojevic that NRL officials conceded should have been awarded. 

The Eels meet second-placed Penrith, who welcome back NSW State of Origin halfback Nathan Cleary from suspension after breaching self-isolating rules during the competition shutdown.

South Sydney, featuring England prop Thomas Burgess, will also be bolstered by the return of five-eighth Cody Walker and strike centre James Roberts as Wayne Bennett's men chase just their second win of the season against Justin Holbrook's Gold Coast Titans.

Holbrook, the former St Helens coach, plotted the Titans first win in 353 days last weekend as they snatched a 28-23 win over Wests Tigers.

The loss prompted Tigers coach Michael Maguire, the former Wigan mentor, to axe five players, including captain Benji Marshall for this weekend's clash with Canberra, who are also coming off a loss after being beaten 34-18 by Newcastle.

Raiders coach Ricky Stuart has named former Wigan prop Ryan Sutton on an extended bench, while otherwise keeping the faith with the players involved in the club's first loss of the season, including English trio Josh Hodgson, Elliott Whitehead and George Williams.

English winger Ryan Hall has also been selected in a 21-man Sydney Roosters squad for their clash with Canterbury after making a surprise appearance against Brisbane last week after star fullback James Tedesco became the first player ruled out with a temperature.

The Bulldogs defeat of St George Illawarra leaves the Dragons as the only team yet to post a win and England's James Graham will be trying to change that when they take on the Cronulla Sharks, who beat North Queensland last weekend.

The Cowboys will be bolstered by the return of Tongan superstar Jason Taumalolo for their clash with the New Zealand Warriors, while the Knights take on Melbourne in another heavyweight clash. ​


Week Five Fixtures (all live on Sky Sports):


10:50am - Manly Sea Eagles v Brisbane Broncos


09:00am - New Zealand Warriors v North Queensland 

10:55am - Parramatta Eels v Penrith Panthers


06:00am - South Sydney Rabbitohs v Gold Coast Titans

08:30am - Newcastle v Melbourne Storm

10:35am - Wests Tigers v Canberra Raiders


07:05am - Canterbury Bulldogs v Sydney Roosters

09:30am - St George-Illawarra Dragons v Cronulla Sharks