2024 NRL WA Premiership Preview – Round 03

By PETER ROWE

 

Both South Perth and Rockingham will be forced to make changes this weekend for round three of the Fuel to Go and Play Premiership with injuries giving coaches Marty Collis and Tom Murphy selection headaches.

 

The Lions will welcome back half Eddie Proudler, but with Keiren Paish, Jarrad Smith, Blair Young and possibly Joey Halpin all sidelined, Collis will add players to his squad, with newcomer Julius Hiroti a possible debut in the centres.

 

“We have a few out, but a few are back in the side, so it’s a critical game for us,” team manager Paul Brown said. 

 

“We need to win to kickstart our season as we’re sitting on just one point from that game in round one at Joondalup. Rockingham have recruited well and are a much better side to last season, so it will be tough.

 

“But at the end of the day it’s 13 v 13 on the field.”

 

Murphy was pleased the Sharks won their opening game last weekend against the Giants but lost winger Tom Hills and centre James Blackburn to injury, Hills with a dislocated shoulder and Blackburn  to an ankle knock.

 

He has added Brody Gilchrist to his squad ahead of the trip to George Burnett Oval but will not name his final 17 until just before game time.

 

“We’ve lost a few through injury and work, so I’m having to shuffle the side,” Murphy admitted.

 

“South Perth are a good grinding team and tough to beat, so we will have to be at our best. It’s always a challenge at their place.”

 

Fremantle Roosters return to the fray after a week off and will fancy their chances at Joondalup, having ironed out a few problems from their opening round loss at North Beach two weeks ago.

 

The Roosters welcome back Taipa Graham, Bjorn Crotty and Nick Riggs for the trip to Admiral Park, with captain Duane Butler believing they are in a much better place than two weeks ago.

 

“We made 24 errors in that game at North Beach and you don’t win games like that,” Butler said.

 

“We’ve got a few new boys coming through so we have to nurture them and build upon every game. It’s a long season and we’ve been fine tuning this week.

 

“Joondalup are a big side and it’s always physical, so we need to be prepared.”

 

Fullback Tuakana Ranghaeata returns after copping a head knock at North Beach, so the Roosters will be close to full strength.

 

Giants halfback and longtime playmaker Taurean Sheehan knows it will be a tough game that will be won or lost on the error count.

 

“We need to be vocal in defence and work hard to adjust when they shift with the ball,’ Sheehan said.

 

“If we can control that, then we have a chance.”

 

The Giants lose Dom Fiddow-Kele with a hamstring injury but welcome back Payden Porter in the middles.

 

Early pacesetters North Beach have the week off with the bye.