8th July 2020, 13:00 | nrl
England winger Ryan Hall has been given his best chance to cement a regular place in the Sydney Roosters team after Tongan international Daniel Tupou was forced to undergo surgery for an ankle injury.
Hall, who has played 40 Tests for England and Great Britain, has managed just eight NRL appearances since joining the Roosters last year due to a horror run with injury and the form of Tupou and former Kangaroos winger Brett Morris.
After rupturing his ACL while playing for Leeds in 2018, Hall dislocated his knee cap in a training mishap with the Roosters last season and then suffered another knee injury in the Lions opening Test against New Zealand at the end of the season.
However, the 32-year-old has fully recovered and after playing two matches since the NRL season resumed on May 28 he will now step in for Tupou on Thursday against North Queensland after the in-form winger suffered a syndesmosis injury in last week’s thrilling golden point loss to Melbourne.
Tupou underwent tightrope surgery earlier this week and Roosters coach Trent Robinson said he was expected to be sidelined for eight weeks, while captain Boyd Cordner has been rested from the opening match of Round 9.
“He has been an incredible, consistent player over the time I have been here,” Robinson said of Tupou. “Obviously he needs about eight weeks and we’ll get some of the other boys in.
“The depth of the squad is really important and that’s why teams play between 28 and 32 players in a season.”
Canberra’s depth is also set to be tested with forwards Sia Soliola (facial fracture) and Emre Guler (ankle) facing long stints on the sideline after incurring injuries in last weekend’s 22-16 defeat of St George Illawarra.
Raiders coach Ricky Stuart described last week’s match against the Dragons as English prop Ryan Sutton’s best since joining the club last season and he has vowed to help fill the void left by Soliola, the former St Helens forward, who is facing 12-16 weeks on the sidelines.
“I’ve seen the scans the other day and it’s not looking good for him but it’s not just me, it’s other people as well,” Sutton said ahead of Saturday’s clash with Melbourne.
“We have to take it upon ourselves to makes sure we are taking the place of those injured players. Sia is a big loss, he is a big leader on the field.”
Meanwhile, fellow English front-rower Luke Thompson has been labelled a “game changer” by Canterbury team-mates for their season after being selected to make his NRL debut against Brisbane on Saturday.
“I remember last year when Dallin Watene-Zelezniak came into our side, it was just a new face, a new player and it bought a sense of excitement and energy back into the group,” Bulldogs winger Nick Meaney said.
“That is something we need at the moment so hopefully that is what Luke brings to our team. Just from the looks at training he is really energetic, runs the ball hard and I am looking forward to playing with him.”
Round 9 starts with the Roosters travelling to North Queensland on Thursday, ahead of Titans-Warriors match on the Gold Coast and Friday night’s derby between Tom Burgess’s South Sydney Rabbitohs and Wests Tigers at Bankwest Stadium.
Cronulla will be chasing their fourth consecutive win against the high flying Penrith Panthers on Saturday before the Broncos-Bulldogs clash and Canberra’s match against the Storm.
Newcastle host competition leaders Parramatta on Sunday, with the round concluding with the clash between the Dragons and Manly Sea Eagles.
Full Week Nine Fixtures (All Live on Sky Sports):
10:50 - North Queensland v Sydney Roosters
09:00 - Gold Coast Titans v NZ Warriors
10:55 - South Sydney Rabbitohs v Wests Tigers
06:00 - Cronulla Sharks v Penrith Panthers
08:30 - Brisbane Broncos v Canterbury Bulldogs
10:35 - Canberra Raiders v Melbourne Storm
07:05 - Newcastle v Parramatta Eels
09:30 - St George-Illawara Dragons v Manly Sea Eagles