Late Mail, teams in and out, injuries, selection news; Tom Opacic ruled out, Eels, Alex Johnston injury, Panthers vs Rabbitohs; Cowboys vs Eels,

Tom Opacic has been ruled out due to his hamstring injury, with Bailey Simonsson being used as a substitute in the center.

South Sydney aviator Alex Johnston has a 50/50 chance of being fit for the preliminary final battle with the Panthers.

Johnston was forced off the field against the Sharks and races against the clock to be fit.

It caused a significant headache for Rabbitohs coach Jason Demetriou.

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David Riccio of the Daily Telegraph said on NRL 360 it was a pain management problem.

“The catch is this, Johnston has a 50-50 chance as of today. It’s a stomach-tummy problem, it’s not something you can prick. It’s about the pain threshold and whether he can rehabilitate in time to get on the football field,” he said.

“The fact that he left the field last night is not ideal and that is what worries South Sydney – if he plays, will he finish the game?

NRL 360 co-host Paul Kent said the injury could have a significant impact on Johnston’s performance if he were to fit Saturday night.

“It’s true, it’s not just the pain threshold,” he said.

“Those kinds of stomach problems really affect you and you just can’t physically do what you’re trying to do.

“No matter how brave you want to be or how hard you try, physically you just can’t get there, your body keeps you from doing it and that’s a big risk to play in a match.

Josh Mansour and Richard Kennar have been named as reserve if Johnston is ruled out.

Read on for all the late mail for the preliminary finals.


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North Queensland Cowboys v Parramatta Eels, 7:50pm AEST at the Queensland Country Bank Stadium Stadium

Cowboys team: 1. Scott Drinkwater 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Valentine Holmes 4. Peta Hiku 5. Murray Taulagi 6. Tom Dearden 7. Chad Townsend 8. Jordan McLean 9. Reece Robson 10. Reuben Cotter 11. Tom Gilbert 12. Jeremiah Nanai 13. Jason Taumalolo 14. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow 15. Luciano Leilua 16. Coen Hess 17. Griffin Neame 18. Jamayne Taunoa-Brown 20. Jake Granville

Players cut: 19. Tomas Chester 21. Brendan Elliot 22. Ben Hampton

Late email:Todd Payten confirmed that the Cowboys are running out of schedule. Luciano Leilua has been named on the bench where he has actually played in recent weeks, despite his name on the starting squad.

Eel team: 1. Clinton Gutherson 2. Maika Sivo 3. Viliami Penini 19. Bailey Simonsson 5. Waqa Blake 6. Dylan Brown 7. Mitchell Moses 8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 9. Reed Mahoney 10. Junior Paul 11. Shaun Lane 12. Isaiah Papali ‘i 13. Ryan Matterson 14. Bryce Cartwright 15. Jacob Arthur 16. Oregon Coast 17. Martha Niukore 18. Makahesi Makatoa 20. Nathan Brown

Players cut: 4. Tom Opacic 21. Ofahiki Ogden 22. Ky Rodwell

Late email: Tom Opacic has been ruled out due to his hamstring injury with Bailey Simonsson brought in as his replacement in the center.

Penrith Panthers v South Sydney Rabbitohs, 7:50pm AEST at Accor Stadium

Panthers team: 1. Dylan Edwards 2. Charlie Staines 3. Izack Tago 4. Stephen Crichton 5. Brian To’o 6. Jarome Luai 7. Nathan Cleary 8. Moses Leota 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. James Fisher-Harris 11. Viliame Kikau 12. Liam Martin 13. Isaah Yeo 14. Mitch Kenny 15. Scott Sorensen 16. Spencer Leniu 17. Jaeman Salmon 18. Sean O’Sullivan 19. Matt Eisenhuth 20. J’maine Hopgood 21. Sunia Turuva 22. Chris Smith

Cutting players:

Late email: Charlie Staines step aside for the suspended Taylor Maybut Brian To’o will trade wings with Staines to become a partner Izack Tago on the right edge. Uncle Koroisau is mentioned to start, but can get off the couch in a trade with Mitch Kenny as happened in the Panthers’ first final against the Eels.

Rabbitohs team: 1. Latrell Mitchell 2. Alex Johnston 3. Isaiah Tass 4. Campbell Graham 5. Taane Milne 6. Cody Walker 7. Lachlan Elias 8. Tevita Tatola 9. Damien Cook 10. Mark Nicholls 11. Keaon Koloamatangi 12. Jai Arrow Cameron Murray 14. Kodi Nikorima 15. Hame Sele 16. Michael Chee Kam 17. Jed Cartwright 18. Davvy Moale 19. Blake Taaffe 20. Josh Mansour 21. Richard Kennar 22. Jacob Host

Cutting players:

Late email: Alex Johnston will be given until the last minute to prove its eligibility. The winger currently has a 50/50 chance to play with Richard Kennar and Josh Mansour listed as reserved. David Riccio of the Daily Telegraph said he believed Souths could go with Kennar if Johnston were ruled out.

“Richard Kennard or Josh Mansour, I really feel the ghosts that have unfolded regarding Mansour’s past performances,” he said on NRL 360 on Tuesday.

“I think it will be enough to stop the Bunnies from choosing Mansour against his former team. I’d lean towards Kennar.’ Second rower Jai Arrow is expected to play despite his nagging groin injury. Jed Cartwright replaces the wounded Silva Havilic on the couch.

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