SAINTS have named their 19-man squad for Friday’s Dacia World Club Series match with Sydney Roosters at Langtree Park.
Both James Roby and Mark Percival are ruled out due to injury but Travis Burns, who failed to earn a place in the squad for the opening two Super League fixtures, and Dominique Peyroux have been added to the list of players from which the final 17 will be chosen.
The Sydney Roosters have suffered a double blow with news that they are likely to be without dynamic forwards Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Boyd Cordner for the opening 10 rounds of the NRL season.
Coach Trent Robinson, preparing for the World Club Series match against St Helens at Langtree Park on Friday, confirmed on Monday both faced lengthy lay-offs, with vice-captain Cordner having had surgery to repair a torn pectoral muscle while enforcer Waerea-Hargreaves remains on the comeback trail from a knee injury.
The Roosters have endured a tumultuous off-season, including the departures of stars Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, James Maloney and Michael Jennings as well as the Australia Day controversy which has left half back Mitchell Pearce’s NRL career in limbo.
They remain among the favourites to reach the grand final, but face an uphill battle to start the season - with Robinson forced to field a patchwork pack for their blockbuster round-one clash with South Sydney.
The reliable Mitchell Aubusson and unheralded former Bronco Mitchell Frei are in contention to fill Cordner’s place in the starting line-up - with both expected to be given an opportunity to show Robinson their worth at Langtree Park on Friday
Young Roosters Jayden Nikorima and Jackson Hastings aren’t being thrown to the wolves in the wake of Mitchell Pearce’s Australia Day dramas, despite being one of the least experienced halves pairings in NRL history, according to skipper Jake Friend.
The pair will start Friday’s World Club Series clash with St Helens less than a month after being thrown together as a result of Pearce’s drunken antics, which have left his career in limbo.
With James Maloney joining Cronulla prior to Pearce’s indiscretions, the Roosters have suddenly found themselves fielding a halves pairing with just 19 first-grade games experience.
Pearce, who is understood to be at a rehabilitation camp in Thailand after admitting to an alcohol problem last month, will have his rugby league future decided upon his return.
Until then, the fate of the Roosters will be in the hands of the competition’s most inexperienced playmakers - a prospect which excites, rather then concerns, Friend.
“They’re both very talented and have some strike. It’s going to be good to watch and see how they go,” said Friend.
Keiron Cunningham will select 17 from:
2. Tommy Makinson, 3. Jordan Turner, 5. Adam Swift, 6. Travis Burns, 7. Luke Walsh, 8. Alex Walmsley, 10. Kyle Amor, 11. Atelea Vea, 12. Jon Wilkin, 13. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 14. Lama Tasi, 15. Greg Richards, 16. Andre Savelio, 17. Luke Thompson, 18. Dominique Peyroux, 19. Theo Fages, 20. Joe Greenwood, 22. Jack Owens, 28. Morgan Knowles.
Trent Robinson will choose his Roosters’ side from:
Aidan Guerra, Blake Ferguson, Brendan Elliot, Dale Copley, Daniel Tupou, Dylan Napa, Ian Henderson, Isaac Liu, Jackson Hastings, Jake Friend, Jayden Nikorima, Joe Burgess, Kane Evans, Latrell Mitchell, Mitchell Aubusson, Mitchell Frei, Sam Moa, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Siua Taukeiaho, Tyler Cornish, Vincent Leuluai.
The game kicks off at 8pm and the referee will be Ben Thaler.