Tuesday 19 February 2013

NRL 2013: Position battles get some clarity

Intriguing team selections for final trials

2013 NRL Premiership

By W D Nicolson - February 19, 2013

Which Dragon has his eyes fixed on Dean Young's #13 for Round 1?


With the final weekend of the 2013 NRL pre-season rapidly approaching, coaches around the competition are finally starting to tip their hands in regards to teams selections for Round 1.

Before you read the following analysis, make sure you take a look at our dedicated NRL Injured List to explain the absence of any players you think should be mentioned below.

Now let's take a look at a few key decisions that NRL coaches appear to be close to making with
 Round 1 starting on March 7... and why they matter for your Dream Team and Super Coach squads.
Trent Merrin is St.George-Illawarra's new lock

Dean Young has retired but Jack de Belin had a few cracks starting at lock in 2012 and was expected to fight it out with Matt PriorBronson Harrison and Tyson Frizell for the two spots alongside captain Ben Creagh in the Dragons backrow.
But it appears that Trent Merrin - who started games in the backrow in the past - is coach Steve Price's preferred choice in the #13 and if he stays there for Round 1 - he's a tasty Dream Team or Super Coach pick because he can tackle like a trooper and isn't afraid of a hitup. The difference between prop and lock is that he could play 50 minutes straight at lock...

Lote Tuqiri won't feature in Round 1

The veteran is nursing an arm injury but he may have struggled to beat out rookie sensation Marika Koroibete and fellow veteran Matt Utai for a spot on the wing come Round 1. Hasn't been picked for the Foundation Cup - and is yet to feature in the pre-season - and there is still some conjecture over his contract for 2013 as it is. He's facing a hard road back to the NRL... that is, if he returns. There are two other interesting selections however...

Dale Copley's injury opens the door to options a-go-go in Brisbane

After learning Jharal Yow Yeh wouldn't be ready for the start of this season, the Broncos appeared to be looking for a new winger to feature in the squad - opposite the incumbent Dale Copley. But Copley's knee injury in last weekend's trial against the Titans - means the Broncos are now looking for a pair of wingers. The contenders face off against the Warriors this weekend and it is a race of four for the two spots: Lachlan Maranta (who was the favourite for Yow Yeh's spot), Delroy Berryman (who starts with Maranta this weekend), Joe Bond (who is on an extended bench) and Jordan Kahu (who starts AHEAD of Jack Reed in the centres).
What about Denan Kemp you ask?
He didn't make the squad for the final trial... so can he really be in the mix for Round 1?

Robert Lui will be North Queensland's Halfback

Although the incumbent half Michael Morgan had two outstanding trials - the youngster fractured his jaw in the win over the Dragons last weekend and will miss at least a month. That means the first grade door has re-opened for Robert Lui and with Anthony Mitchell also returning to the squad on the bench, Lui's main rival - Ray Thompson - might miss out on a spot in the Round 1 team entirely.
The only issue for Lui is he can't tackle... and that's not Johnathan Thurston's strong point either. So Lui better hope the backrower who gets babysitting duty for him does his job well, because coach Neil Henry won't tolerate weak spots on both sides of the field.

Yes there are plenty more to talk about (including who appears to be in line to replace injured Penrith halfback Luke Walsh, so...

Which team selections for the final trials have caught your attention?
Comment below or reply on Twitter.

The NRL Injury List is updated regularly during each week of the season, making it an invaluable Fantasy and Tipping Tool alongside our Weekly NRL Previews once again.

Remember if you want game-specific Late Mail every week, then check out our Round Previews Every Wednesday and they are updated with all the very latest Late Mail on Friday.

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