South Sydney coach Michael Maguire has bitten the bullet and relegated captain John Sutton to the backrow for their NRL finals clash with Manly.
At sixes and sevens over who to pick at five-eighth, South Sydney coach Michael Maguire has made the tough decision to relegate captain John Sutton to the backrow for Friday night’s NRL qualifying final against Manly.
Sutton will play his 250th game in the second-row after Adam Reynolds’ return from suspension forced yet another halves reshuffle by Maguire.
The Rabbitohs coach bit the bullet upon halfback Reynolds’ return from a one-match dangerous throw ban, shifting incumbent No.7 Luke Keary to pivot and Sutton from five-eighth to the second-row on Tuesday.
Maguire agonised over who to name at five-eighth with leader Sutton considered their No.1 pivot before Keary shone in the No.6 jersey when the captain went down with a knee injury.
A rusty Sutton returned from injury in last week’s loss to Sydney Roosters at five-eighth with Keary at No.7 and Reynolds sidelined.
Sutton said he would relish the captaincy no matter where he played in the finals.
“I am enjoying the captaincy. It’s a role I didn’t think I would have had a few years ago but I am loving every minute of leading the boys out each week,” said Sutton who began his first grade career 10 years ago.
“(And starting five-eighth) Luke Keary has come into the team and produced a lot of energy and been really good for us.”
Sutton’s attitude earned praise from teammate Greg Inglis.
“He’s our skipper and our leader and he has shown the way there,” he said.
Manly – South Sydney’s 2013 preliminary final conquerors – named fullback Brett Stewart (ankle) and prop Brenton Lawrence (knee), late scratchings for the last round loss to North Queensland which cost the Sea Eagles the minor premiership.
Lawrence is likely to play but Stewart, who also missed Manly’s 2013 qualifying final against the Sydney Roosters, is considered a 50-50 proposition.
Another injury concern – Melbourne skipper Cameron Smith – was named for the Storm’s elimination final against the Bulldogs on Sunday.
Test skipper Smith (ankle) is off crutches and out of a moon boot but won’t train until Saturday, when a final decision will be made.
For the Dogs, Dale Finucane returns from suspension onto a seven-man bench but Reni Maitua and Pat O’Hanlon missed out.
Meanwhile, Roosters backrower Aidan Guerra’s ban for a chicken wing tackle forced coach Trent Robinson into one change for Saturday night’s qualifying final against Penrith.
Isaac Liu is in the starting side at lock with Kane Evans on the bench.
Penrith have moved Brent Kite back to the front row, Nigel Plum to lock and Sika Manu to the back-row.
Jeremy Latimore returns from suspension to replace forward Tim Grant (knee).
Cowboys coach Paul Green named an unchanged line-up for Saturday night’s elimination final against a Brisbane side that replaced injured centre Jack Reed with Corey Oates.
Sam Thaiday returns from suspension at lock, Corey Parker moves to the front row and Ben Hannant to the bench.