Dolphins v Roosters: Katoa gets nod; Manu, JWH to miss

The time has come for Wayne Bennett's Dolphins to make their NRL debut and they can expect a tough initiation from a battle- hardened Roosters outfit at Suncorp Stadium.

On paper, the Roosters have one of the best sides in the competition and their loyal fans will be eager to see what new combinations Trent Robinson has come up with during the pre-season.

The match will be the first for marquee recruit Brandon Smith in Roosters colours and he showed enough quality touches in the Pre-Season Challenge to suggest he's in for a big year.

The Dolphins copped some heat for failing to land a marquee player but premiership-winning Storm trio Jesse Bromwich, Kenny Bromwich and Felise Kaufusi know what it takes to win on the big stage and they'll have the new boys primed for a huge first-up effort.

Expect the sparks to fly when the Bromwich brothers square off with Matt Lodge, Lindsay Collins and Victor Radley in front of a packed house at Suncorp.

Team News 
Dolphins: Herman Ese'ese dropped out on Saturday with an injury suffered late in the week, his place on the bench taken by Connelly Lemuelu. The other players to come out of the extended squad 24 hours before kick-off were Mason Teague and Anthony Milford. Young gun Isaiya Katoa has won the battle for the No.6 jersey in Wayne Bennett's inaugural Dolphins team. Skipper Jesse Bromwich leads a forward pack that includes his brother Kenny and fellow Storm recruit Felise Kaufusi as well as Tom Gilbert and Jarrod Wallace. Former Eel Ray Stone has been named on the bench for his first game since suffering an ACL injury in round three last year. Katoa's teammate from Penrith's Jersey Flegg premiership-winning side, Kurt Donoghue, has been named to make his NRL debut off the bench.

Roosters: Star centre Joey Manu is out after suffering a facial fracture during pre-season training while fellow Kiwi Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (back) is also sidelined. Former Bulldog Corey Allan takes over in the centres alongside Joseph Suaalii. Five-eighth Luke Keary has overcome a jaw injury to take his place in the halves with Sam Walker. Star signing Brandon Smith will play his first NRL game for the Tricolours at hooker and Drew Hutchison is the back-up dummy half in No.14. World Cup winner Angus Crichton (personal leave) is out with Egan Butcher to start on an edge. Sandon Smith, Siua Wong and Tuku Hau Tapuha were cut from the extended squad 24 hours before kick-off.

Stat Attack

  • Dolphins captain Jesse Bromwich has won 20 games from 23 at Suncorp Stadium.
  • The Roosters have lost their opening game in four of the past five seasons.
  • Dolphins coach Wayne Bennett has won seven of his past nine games against the Roosters.
  • Roosters' fullback James Tedesco led the competition in tackle breaks last season with 169, while team-mate Joey Manu was a close second with 145.
  • The last four teams to enter the NRL - Titans in 2007, Wests Tigers in 2000, St George Illawarra in 1999 and Storm in 1998 - had one win, one draw and two losses between them. The Storm were the winners, beating Illawarra 14-12 in round one, 1998. 




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