St. George Illawarra Dragons Will Debut Toby Couchman; Jack de Belin excluded

Dragons make their debut for teenage Couchman

St. George Illawarra will give 19-year-old forward Toby Couchman his NRL debut against Gold Coast on Sunday, with Jack de Belin out with a calf injury.

The teenager is promoted to the Dragons’ top 30 roster, allowing him to face off against the Titans.

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

Couchman, whose twin Ryan is also in the Dragons’ lineup, is expected to come off the bench for the Red V’s first game of the season, while Jack Bird will start in the No. 13 jersey worn by de Belin.

Five-eighter Jayden Sullivan has also shown his fitness to play despite a hamstring injury last season and will work with Ben Hunt at half-time.

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

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

Toby Couchman, who played St Helens in last month’s Dragons trial, will make his NRL debut this weekend.Credit:NRL photos

Sharks fight Graham

Wade Graham will seek a demotion from an unusually reckless tackle charge for his spectacular strike against South Sydney’s Davvy Moale in the first court hearing of the season.

The Sharks co-captain has pleaded not guilty after a hit on Moale that prompted referee Todd Smith to send him to the sin bin.

It means the 32-year-old risks a four-game ban if he doesn’t succeed in front of the courts. He could have picked up a three-game suspension with an early guilty plea.

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

Canberra’s Jordan Rapana has been suspended for three games for his shoulder attack on North Queensland’s Scott Drinkwater.

Roosters lose Radley, Lodge for Warriors clash


The Sydney Roosters will be without Victor Radley and Prop Matt Lodge after a disastrous afternoon in Brisbane on Sunday, which culminated in the loss to competition newcomers Dolphins at Suncorp Stadium.

Radley suffered a concussion during the loss to Wayne Bennett’s men and did not finish the game. With a six-day turnaround, he will be ineligible for Saturday’s Roosters-Warriors game.

Lodge suffered a fractured cheekbone and is expected to undergo surgery. He could spend up to two months on the sidelines.

Mitchell may not be fit to face Panther

Blake Taaffe is expected to start at full-back for South Sydney against Penrith if Latrell Mitchell fails to recover from a knee bend.

And Jai Arrow (hamstring) and Junior Tatola (concussion) will miss Thursday’s trip to the base of the mountains but are also expected to be available for Friday week’s derby against the Roosters.

“Latrell just hit his knee, he’s having physical therapy today [Monday], we’ll lighten his burdens later in the week, he should be fine but we won’t risk him if he’s not – it’s nothing major,” said Souths coach Jason Demetriou. “If Latrell isn’t there, Blake will start.

“Junior has to go through the six day protocol but I wouldn’t have picked him anyway because he suffered a couple of concussions last year. We’ll make sure he’s rested. It’s a long year.”


Münster will be out of surgery for up to four weeks

Cameron Munster will be out for up to four weeks as he recovers from a complicated fracture he sustained in last Thursday’s Golden Point win over Parramatta.

Munster came off the field with the gruesome injury but returned later in the game to lead the Storm to victory. The Storm are hoping he could be back in two weeks after undergoing surgery the day after the game.

“He had surgery as soon as he came back [to Melbourne] on Friday,” said Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy. “It looks like he’ll miss four weeks at worst; and ideally two weeks.” St. George Illawarra Dragons Will Debut Toby Couchman; Jack de Belin excluded

Ryan Sederquist

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