St George Illawarra Dragons set to debut Toby Couchman; Jack de Belin ruled out

Cronulla will be without Nicho Hynes for a second straight week. The Sharks are playing the long game with the Dally M medallist, who is recovering from a calf complaint. Braydon Trindall did a commendable job filling in for Hynes against the Rabbitohs last weekend and will again wear the No.7 jersey. Wade Graham will be unavailable as he will need to serve a suspension even if he successfully gets a downgrade at the judiciary tonight.

Souths sweat on Latrell

Blake Taaffe looks set to start at fullback for South Sydney against the Panthers with the Rabbitohs leaning towards giving Latrell Mitchell a week off to overcome a knee niggle.

Jai Arrow (hamstring) and Junior Tatola (concussion) will skip Thursday’s trip to the foot of the mountains, but are expected to be available for Friday week’s clash with the Roosters.

“Latrell just jarred his knee,” Souths coach Jason Demetriou said. “We’ll lighten his loads through the week, he should be good to go, but we won’t risk him if he’s not – it’s nothing major.

“If Latrell isn’t there, Blake will start.

“Junior will need to go through the six-day [concussion] protocol, but I wouldn’t have picked him anyway because he suffered a few concussions last year. We’ll make sure he’s rested. It’s a long year.

“Daniel Suluka-Fifita had his comeback game in reserve grade on the weekend and comes straight back in, which is good timing.

Latrell Mitchell needed treatment during the game against Cronulla.Credit:Getty Images

“And Jai’s hamstring strain is only minor, which is good news. He won’t play this week, but he’s also a chance for the Roosters game.”

Mitchell went down clutching his left knee midway through the first half against Cronulla on Saturday night. He finished the game, and kicked a few goals and a late field-goal with the same leg.

Dragons set to hand debut to teenager Couchman

St George Illawarra are set to hand 19-year-old forward Toby Couchman his NRL debut against Gold Coast on Sunday with Jack de Belin set to be ruled out with a calf injury.

The teenager will be upgraded to the Dragons’ top-30 squad, allowing him to take the field against the Titans.

The NSW under-19 Origin player has come through the Illawarra system with the Thirroul Butchers and has impressed coach Anthony Griffin over the summer.

Couchman, whose twin, Ryan, is also in the Dragons’ set-up, is expected to come off the bench for the Red V’s first game of the season, with Jack Bird to start in de Belin’s No.13 jersey.

Five-eighth Jayden Sullivan has also proved his fitness to play despite suffering a hamstring injury over the pre-season and will partner Ben Hunt in the halves.

Couchman, a Steelers junior, played in both the front row and back row in Jersey Flegg and NSW Cup last year. He impressed in the trial match against St Helens a month ago.

Toby Couchman, who played in the Dragons trial against St Helens last month, will make his NRL debut this weekend.

Toby Couchman, who played in the Dragons trial against St Helens last month, will make his NRL debut this weekend.Credit:NRL Photos

Sharks to fight Graham charge

Wade Graham will seek a downgrade from an uncommon reckless tackle charge for his spectacular hit on South Sydney’s Davvy Moale in the first judiciary hearing of the season.

The Sharks co-captain has entered a not guilty plea to a grade one reckless tackle charge following a hit on Moale, which prompted referee Todd Smith to send him to the sin bin.

It means the 32-year-old will risk a four-game suspension if unsuccessful at the judiciary. He could have taken a three-match ban with an early guilty plea.

Graham and the Sharks will argue the tackle should have been deemed careless rather than reckless, which could help him reach the 300-game milestone later this season if his penalty is reduced. He needs another 22 matches to reach the mark.

Canberra’s Jordan Rapana has taken a three-match suspension for his shoulder charge on North Queensland’s Scott Drinkwater.


Surgery sidelines Munster for up to four weeks

Cameron Munster will miss up to four weeks as he recovers from a compound fracture he suffered in last Thursday’s golden point win over Parramatta.

Munster came from the field with the gruesome injury, but returned later in the match to guide the Storm to victory. The Storm are hopeful he could be back in a fortnight after undergoing surgery the day after the game.

“He had some surgery as soon as he got back [to Melbourne] on Friday,” Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy said. “It looks like he will miss, worst-case scenario, four weeks; and best-case scenario, two weeks.”

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