Selection headaches for each NRL club
EACH NRL CLUB'S BIGGEST SELECTION HEADACHE HEADING INTO TRIAL SEASON
After a failed halves experiment last year, former skipper Darius Boyd's best chance to crack the starting side may be on the wing with Jamayne Isaako in line for No.1 and Jack Bird and Kotoni Staggs set for the centres. But the returning Jordan Kahu may yet leapfrog Boyd and join Corey Oates on the wing.
CANBERRA: Front row
The Raiders pack is intensely competitive. The club's best player Josh Papalii will start as prop, leaving Sia Soliola, Ryan Sutton, and Dunamis Lui to fight it out for the other starting spot.
Jesse Ramien is now the fourth centre on the books at Cronulla, joining Josh Morris, Josh Dugan and Bronson Xerri. It's likely Dugan will be pushed to the wing with at least one other to miss out.
Unlucky star Kieran Foran is expected to be sidelined for the first half of the season. While Lachlan Lewis has a lock on the halfback position, Brandon Wakeham and Jack Cogger will compete for the vacant No.6 spot.
GOLD COAST: Prop
New Titans coach Justin Holbrook faces a major headache after captain Ryan James broke down yet again with a serious knee injury. Pressure is on the likes of Jarrod Wallace, Shannon Boyd and Moeaki Fotuiaka to step up in their inspirational skipper's absence in what looms as yet another long year for Titans fans.
The Sea Eagles have signed Danny Levi as cover for Manese Fainu, but are still missing a replacement hooker for Api Koroisau. The No.14 jersey will be up for grabs between Cade Cust and Lachlan Croker.
The Storm have lost Will Chambers and Curtis Scott for 2020. Justin Olam forced his way into the team last year, but Brenko Lee, Marion Seve and Tom Eisenhuth will battle for the other spot.
The Knights need consistency at five-eighth alongside Mitchell Pearce in 2020. Kurt Mann and Connor Watson can play in the halves or as a utility, while Phoenix Crossland and Mason Lino are specialists but will need to prove themselves.
NORTH QUEENSLAND: Halves
Scott Drinkwater impressed at fullback last year but may find himself partnering captain Michael Morgan in the halves in 2020 after the returning Valentine Holmes quickly commandeered the Cowboys No.1 jersey. Coach Paul Green faces a tough decision with young gun Jake Clifford also in the halves mix.
PARRAMATTA: Front row
Reagan Campbell-Gillard started 20 of his 23 games last year at Penrith on the bench. But he's tipped to be back in the run-onside following his move to Parramatta, with Daniel Alvaro, Kane Evans and Peni Terepo providing depth.
James Maloney's departure leaves a major hole, and it's not just with his talking. Jarome Luai is expected to get first crack, but fellow youngster Matt Burton is right behind him. If he's cleared to play, Tyrone May is another option.
SOUTH SYDNEY: Second row
It's hard to replace the combined 500-plus games lost between the retired John Sutton and Sam Burgess. Ethan Lowe and Jaydn Sua may be enough to do a job, but the club lacks depth in a critical position.
ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA: Wing
It was an unsettled position last season and the Dragons will carry the same dilemma into 2020. In the final game of the season Tristan Sailor filled in on the edge, forcing another name into the equation along with Jason Saab, Jordan Pereira and Mikaele Ravalawa.
SYDNEY ROOSTERS: Left centre
Latrell Mitchell has left some enormous shoes to fill, and one candidate has already gone down after Billy Smith tore his ACL. That leaves veteran duo Brett Morris and Mitch Aubusson as likely options to start in the No.3 jumper.
Wayde Egan was signed on a three-year deal over the summer from Penrith and is expected to be given first crack, but coach Stephen Kearney can also call on Nathaniel Roache or Karl Lawton for the crucial hooking spot.
WESTS TIGERS: Second row
Ryan Matterson was one of their best players in 2019 and replacing him in the second row will be an almighty challenge. Michael Maguire will hope either Michael Chee Kam, Luciano Leilua, Luke Garner or Josh Aloiai will have a similar impact.
© AAP 2020