Suspensions force Benji to ring the changes for Cowboys clash

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Wests Tigers coach Benji Marshall has named a 22-man squad for Friday night’s Indigenous Round match against the Cowboys in Townsville.

There are a handful of changes to the side which lost to the Dolphins 24-12 in Magic Round following one-week suspensions for centres Justin Olam and Brent Naden.

Declan Casey will make his Wests Tigers debut after scoring four tries in 10 games this season for Western Suburbs Magpies in the NSW Cup.

The 24-year-old centre joined the club on a training contract at the end of the 2023 season after making six NRL appearances for Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs.

Josh Feledy also comes into the centres and will play his second game in the top grade after making his NRL debut in Round 27 last year.

 The 19-year-old has scored four tries in eight appearances in the NSW Cup this season.

Isaiah Papali’i returns to the side following a one-week suspension, replacing Asu Kepaoa in the second row.

The other change to the starting pack sees Justin Matamua named at lock, with Alex Twal reverting to the interchange bench.

After seven losses on the trot fans will be hoping that the players chosen avoid the kind of brain explosions that cost Wests Tigers the game against the Dolphins – and a few games before that.

To be fair, the referees have been a little rough on Benji’s team, with the Olam sin binning (pictured above) and one week suspension proof of that.

Brent Naden does not deserve any sympathy for what he did, and if Benji is starting to look at next season and who will not be there he could do worse then put a line through Naden’s name.

He may be talented, but his game is full of errors and should not play first grade again.

Another one that should be on Benji’s list is Alex Twal, who may be the nicest guy in the world but does not bring the kind of X factor that helps a side play finals.

He may also consider giving Jahream Bula a stint in the NSW Cup – the young fullback seems to have lost his mojo in the past few weeks.

And once Sezer returns, young five-eighth Lachlan Galvin should join his for a few games and to get away from the intense pressure of the NRL.


North Queensland Cowboys v Wests Tigers, 6pm, Friday, May 24 at Townsville:


1. Jahream Bula

2. Charlie Staines

3. Declan Casey

4. Josh Feledy

5. Solomon Alaimalo

6. Lachlan Galvin

7. Jayden Sullivan

8. Stefano Utoikamanu

9. Apisai Koroisau (c)

10. David Klemmer

11. Isaiah Papali’i

12. Samuela Fainu

13. Justin Matamua


14. Jake Simpkin

15. Alex Twal

16. Alex Seyfarth

17. Fonua Pole

18. Sione Fainu

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