Another key Eel to miss a month after Moses blow, Cleary out, Knight faces ban


Parramatta have copped another body blow with the news that Bryce Cartwright will miss a month of footy with a fractured rib.

The second rower has been among their best in 2024 so far, picking up the man of the match award in their opening victory over the Bulldogs, but will now sit out, joining halfback Mitchell Moses, who is sidelined for two months due to a foot problem.

Penrith have confirmed Nathan Cleary has been sidelined with a minor hamstring injury after the superstar halfback was substituted out in the final ten minutes of the Panthers’ 34-12 win over Brisbane on Thursday night. After feeling more discomfort than anticipated, the 26-year-old was sent for scans.

The Panthers are expected to release a formal update on Cleary’s condition on Tuesday. He will not be named in the team to face the Sydney Roosters on Thursday and could also miss the visit to Manly on April 6.

The Panthers have a bye in round six and are hopeful Cleary could return for their first game after that – against Wests Tigers in Bathurst on April 20.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 01: Nathan Cleary of the Panthers celebrates scoring a try during the 2023 NRL Grand Final match between Penrith Panthers and Brisbane Broncos at Accor Stadium on October 01, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Nathan Cleary. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Former Canberra playmaker Brad Schneider is expected to make his club debut in Cleary’s place, lining up next to Jarome Luai in the halves at Allianz Stadium this week.

His absence has made a massive swing to the betting odds with the Roosters going from $2.60 outsiders to $1.77 favourites and the Panthers blowing out from $1.28 to $2.05 at PlayUp

Panthers prop James Fisher-Harris is unlikely to be back for another couple of weeks due to his shoulder problem.

The news was worse for Parra with Moses fracturing his left foot in a devastating blow to Parramatta’s hopes of bouncing back into finals contention this NRL season.

The Eels released a statement on Monday confirming Moses was expected to miss up to eight weeks with his injury, which will also hamper his campaign for State of Origin selection.

The injury will also have serious ramifications for the Eels, who needed to contend with instability in the halves last season as they crashed out of finals contention.

Ex-Warriors utility Daejarn Asi filled in at five-eighth when Dylan Brown missed seven games through suspension last season and is the likely candidate to join the halves again. The Eels could also look to bring in rising star Ethan Sanders for his NRL debut.

Parramatta host Wests Tigers on Easter Monday for their first match without Moses, but star winger Maika Sivo is expected to return from suspension for his first game of the year. 

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 16: Mitchell Moses of the Eels celebrates kicking a goal as fans cheer during the NRL Semi Final match between the Parramatta Eels and the Canberra Raiders at CommBank Stadium on September 16, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

(Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

A low-grade hamstring strain is likely to keep Roosters prop Lindsay Collins out of Thursday’s clash while back-up five-eighth Sandon Smith (elbow) also in doubt.

The Roosters said Smith suffered a “significant medial ligament injury to his left elbow” just before halftime of Friday’s 48-6 hammering of South Sydney.

In better news for the Roosters, halfback Sam Walker has been cleared of concussion and will line up against the Panthers.

The Bunker’s independent doctor originally ruled Walker had suffered a category-one head injury in the second half of Friday’s game, which would have ruled him out for 11 days.

But the NRL’s chief medical officer has since engaged two other independent doctors to assess Walker, whose injury was downgraded to category two.

Roosters five-eighth Luke Keary is set to return from a head knock.

South Sydney’s season might be about to go from bad to worse after two of their biggest stars failed to complete training ahead of their crunch Good Friday meeting with the Bulldogs.

Captain Cam Murray and star recruit Jack Wighton are carrying knee complaints, with the former Canberra star excused entirely while the lock was allowed to finish early.

Souths forward Jai Arrow revealed on The Matty Johns Show on Sunday night that he was targeting Round 8 for a return from his shoulder injury while Campbell Graham (sternum) is aiming for Round 18.

Brisbane will put their faith in Tristan Sailor to replace Reece Walsh at fullback rather than Maroons representative Selwyn Cobbo.

Broncos coach Kevin Walters has confirmed Sailor would play fullback against North Queensland at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night. Walsh suffered a facial fracture in the 34-12 loss to Penrith on Thursday night and will miss 4-6 weeks.

Cobbo has openly stated that he would love to have a crack at fullback and did well after Walsh went off in the early stages of the loss to the Panthers.

Sailor was solid last year for the Broncos in four NRL games while filling in for Walsh, producing six try assists.

Front-rower Payne Haas (knee) will be out for a month but Walters confirmed captain Adam Reynolds would be given until Thursday to prove his fitness for the Cowboys match after missing the Panthers clash.

The only suspension from Sunday’s matches was Leo Thompson, who will miss at least a week after being charged with Dangerous Contact.

The Knights prop sent Ryan Papenhuyzen cartwheeling while the challenging the fullback for a high ball, with the Match Review Panel. The ban will be limited to just a week if Thompson takes the Early Guilty Plea.

Gold Coast captain Tino Fa’asuamaleaui will miss the rest of the season after scans confirmed he tore his anterior cruciate ligament against Canterbury on Saturday.

The Titans confirmed the 24-year-old representative prop had scans in Sydney on Saturday night after the side’s 32-0 loss and a further analysis by a club doctor on Sunday morning reinforced the worst possible news.

They have already had an injury-ravaged start to the season with fullback Jayden Campbell (patella) and second-rower David Fifita (torn pectoral) yet to play in the NRL.

Campbell returned to action on Saturday in the Queensland Cup with Tweed Heads and could be available for the round four NRL clash with the Dolphins on Saturday at Robina.

Cronulla look set to be without captain Dale Finucane (concussion), Toby Rudolf (ankle) and Royce Hunt (calf) on top of Briton Nikora (suspended) when they host Canberra on Sunday. Braden Hamlin-Uele (knee) is a chance to offset the loss of his forward teammates.

Raiders forward Corey Horsburgh (suspension) will make his first appearance for 2024. 

Canterbury winger Josh Addo-Carr is a chance to return on Good Friday against Souths after missing the past two matches with a shoulder injury he suffered against Parramatta.

(Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

Front-rower Poasa Faamausili (concussion) could also be back for the Dogs. 

Warriors fullback Taine Tuaupiki (failed HIA) is under a cloud for their Round 4 home fixture against the Knights in Auckland with Charnze Nicol-Klokstad (hamstring) a maybe after missing the opening rounds. Wayde Egan (elbow) and Dylan Walker (ankle) were late withdrawals before the win over the Raiders.

Dragons forward Jaydn Su’A (thigh) is hopeful of taking on Manly in Wollongong on Saturday night after sitting out the loss to the Cowboys at Kogarah. Front-rower Francis Molo (suspension) and hooker Jacob Liddle (concussion) are also set to boost the pack.

Round 4 teams

Sydney vs Penrith at Allianz Stadium: 8pm, Thursday March 28

Odds: Roosters $1.77 Panthers $2.05 – odds via PlayUp

Roosters: Luke Keary could be back from his head knock while Sam Walker (concussion) has gained a clearance from the NRL. Lindsay Collins (hamstring) is out and Sandon Smith (elbow) is highly unlikely to play.

Panthers: Kiwi prop James Fisher-Harris is unlikely to be back from his shoulder problem while Nathan Cleary will miss a month with a hamstring injury in a hammer blow to the premiers’ immediate future.

South Sydney vs Canterbury at Accor Stadium: 4.05pm, Friday March 29

Odds: Rabbitohs $1.50 Bulldogs $2.60 – odds via PlayUp

Rabbitohs: Jai Arrow revealed on The Matty Johns Show on Sunday night that he was targeting Round 8 for a return from his shoulder injury while Campbell Graham (sternum) is aiming for Round 18. Damien Cook may regain his starting spot against the Dogs after the Siliva Havili experiment failed against the Roosters.

Bulldogs: Josh Addo-Carr (shoulder) could be back after missing the past two weeks while prop Poasa Faamausili (concussion) shuld also be available after sitting out the win over Gold Coast.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 01: Adam Reynolds of the Broncos reacts after a Panthers try during the 2023 NRL Grand Final match between Penrith Panthers and Brisbane Broncos at Accor Stadium on October 01, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

(Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Brisbane vs North Queensland at Suncorp Stadium: 8pm, Friday March 29

Odds: Broncos $2 Cowboys $1.81 – odds via PlayUp

Broncos: Adam Reynolds is chance to make an early return from his knee injury with Jock Madden on standby at halfback. Payne Haas (knee) won’t be back for a month, along with fullback Reece Walsh.

Cowboys: No changes expected for the NRL’s only undefeated team.

St George Illawarra vs Manly at WIN Stadium: 5.30pm, Saturday March 30

Odds: Dragons $3.15 Sea Eagles $1.36 – odds via PlayUp

Dragons: St George Illawarra coach Shane Flanagan said he may have to make widespread changes after their capitulation to the Cowboys. Jaydn Su’A (thigh), prop Francis Molo (suspension) and Jacob Liddle (concussion) are set to boost the pack.

Sea Eagles: Front-rower Toafofoa Sipley is available for selection after serving a crusher tackle suspension from the trials.

(Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Gold Coast vs Dolphins at Cbus Super Stadium: 7.35pm, Saturday March 30

Odds: Titans $2.12 Dolphins $1.72 – odds via PlayUp

Titans: Jayden Campbell (knee) is in line to make his first appearance for 2024 after returning in the Queensland Cup on the weekend but David Fifita (pectoral) looks another week away which hurts the Titans even more following the loss of Tino Fa’asuamaleaui for the season with a torn ACL.

Dolphins: Ray Stone (concussion) will be back for Wayne Bennett’s team, fresh after the bye.

Warriors vs Newcastle at Go Media Stadium: 4.05pm, Sunday March 31

Odds: Warriors $1.48 Knights $2.65 – odds via PlayUp

Warriors: Young fullback Taine Tuaupiki (failed HIA) is under a cloud with Charnze Nicol-Klokstad (hamstring) a maybe after missing the opening rounds. Wayde Egan (elbow) and Dylan Walker (ankle) were late withdrawals before the win over the Raiders.

Knights: Adam O’Brien refused to commit to Tyson Gamble and Jack Cogger as his halves pairing after the lacklustre win over Melbourne on Sunday night.

Cronulla vs Canberra at PointsBet Stadium: 6.15pm, Sunday March 31

Odds: Sharks $1.50 Raiders $2.60 – odds via PlayUp

Sharks: Braden Hamlin-Uele (knee) is hoping to play but Royce Hunt (calf), Dale Finucane (concussion) and Toby Rudolf (ankle) could join suspended second-rower Briton Nikora on the sidelines. 

Raiders: Corey Horsburgh will bring a jolt of energy to the pack after serving his suspension from last year’s finals while Seb Kris (concussion) is a maybe.

Parramatta vs Wests Tigers at CommBank Stadium: 4pm, Monday April 1

Odds: Eels $1.28 Tigers $3.65 – odds via PlayUp

Eels: Star half Mitchell Moses is out until the end of May with a broken foot with Daejarn Asi likely to replace him. Wingers Bailey Simonsson (concussion) and Maika Sivo (suspension) are due to return but it would be tough to drop young centre Blaize Talagi after his blistering debut.

Wests: No changes likely at NRL level for the Tigers but young half Latu Fainu should be right to make a return from a hamstring tear in the NSW Cup. 

Bye – Storm: Cameron Munster (groin) is aiming to return while halves partner Jahrome Hughes will make his comeback from his one-game ban for pushing a referee. Their pack will also be strengthened by second-rower Joe Chan (hand infection) and Nelson Asofa-Solomona (hamstring) available although Craig Bellamy the Kiwi prop may need a few weeks at NSW Cup level after a couple of recent setbacks with the injury.

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