Taukeiaho out as Sea Eagles, Panthers, Eels welcome back stars

The Roosters have suffered a major blow ahead of Friday night’s semi-final clash with Manly with Tonga prop Siosiua Taukeiaho ruled out with a calf injury.

Taukeiaho lasted just two minutes in last Saturday night’s 25-24 elimination final defeat of Gold Coast before hobbling to the sideline. He underwent scans on Monday and has not been named in the 21-man squad to play the Sea Eagles.

Forward Nat Butcher returns from a knee injury and will replace Taukeiaho on the interchange, where he will start alongside halfback Sam Walker, who kicked the match-winning field goal in a nine-minute cameo against the Titans.

Roosters hooker Sam Verrills has been named pending the result of Tuesday night's judiciary hearing, at which he is seeking a downgrading on his grade two careless high tackle charge. If the downgrade bid fails, Verrills will receive a two-match ban. 

Manly will be boosted by the return of hooker Lachlan Croker, who missed last Friday night’s 40-6 loss to Melbourne after suffering a back injury at training the day before.

Croker will take over the dummy-half duties from Karl Lawton, who moves back to the interchange, with St Helens-bound second-rower Curtis Sironen dropping the reserves list.

Penrith welcome back fullback Dylan Edwards and interchange forwards Moses Leota and Scott Sorensen for Saturday night’s semi-final against Parramatta.

Edwards (calf) and Leota (knee) could have played in last Saturday night’s 16-10 defeat by South Sydney if needed but Panthers coach Ivan Cleary had hoped to give them a two-week break if his team had advanced to the preliminary final.

Sorensen dislocated his wrist in Penrith’s 40-6 triumph over the Eels two weeks ago and spent a night in a Gold Coast hospital but has made a speedy recovery.

Winger Charlie Staines makes way for Edwards and has dropped out of Penrith’s 21-man squad, with Stephen Crichton shifting from fullback to the wing.

Forwards Tom Eisenhuth and Spencer Leniu move from the interchange to reserves to accommodate Leota and Sorensen.

Parramatta coach Brad Arthur has made just one change to the team that beat Newcastle 28-20 in last Sunday’s elimination final, recalling Ryan Matterson in place of Makahesi Makatoa.

Matterson was available last weekend after serving a three-match suspension but Arthur chose to overlook him for the Knights clash as he wanted to stick with the same line-up which beat Melbourne in round 24.

The winner of the Panthers-Eels clash will take on Melbourne next weekend, while the Roosters and Sea Eagles are vying for the opportunity to play Souths in the preliminary final.