Massacres galore as teams give their stars a break

NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo says clubs have the right to rest their players after several clubs opted to omit their stars for the finals, with major implications for the minor Premier League and the race for places at the top has first eight.

The Storm have made a whopping 11 changes from the side that beat the Titans as they have already secured a place in the top four, while their opponent Brisbane have also missed out on some of their biggest stars.

“Every coach, team and club sets their own strategy for the team and combinations,” said Abdo, as teams look to play it safe after a week of injuries that saw some of the best players in the world injured .

“It's a calling to live and to die by, and that's your job.

“I've never seen an NRL game that wasn't exciting and captivating. Players will make their NRL debuts this weekend. I'm not worried at all that we won't have eight exciting games.”

The Storm will be without stars Cameron Munster, Harry Grant, Jahrome Hughes and several others as their halfback will miss Thursday's trip north with a knee injury that is expected to heal in time for the final.

While most big players have been rested, Ryan Papenhuyzen will be able to test his knee after being named full-back following his successful return to the field last week after a more than 400-day absence in the NRL.

Exciting fullbacks Sua Fa'alogo and Jack Howarth will both make their NRL debuts, as will Broncos hooker Blake Mozer, who is considered to be a star.

The Broncos have a terrible record against Melbourne and have decided to rest their stars, although a win would give the club their first minor Premier League in 23 years.

Reece Walsh, Payne Haas, Ezra Mam and Selwyn Cobbo are just some of the players missing. Adam Reynolds (calf) and Pat Carrigan (foot) are injured.

A defeat in Brisbane would open the door for Penrith to steal the small Premier League if they can beat the Cowboys and the Panthers aren't playing with all their stars on deck to knock North Queensland out of the finals.

A shoulder injury to Jarome Luai last week has not scared the coaching staff who called up Nathan Cleary and Isaah Yeo, while Dylan Edwards, Izack Tago and Scott Sorensen are all likely to return.

There's a chance their stars will be rested when the Broncos win, and that would be music to the ears of the Cowboys, who need to win if they want to sneak into the top eight.

James Tedesco (HIA) is back for the Roosters, who have also called up Joseph Manu despite Saturday's Golden Boot winner picking up a hamstring injury.

The Roosters will be without the suspended Jared Waerea-Hargreaves while the Bunnies will be without Latrell Mitchell, who was replaced by Blake Taaffe for Friday's epic blockbuster that could decide the finals spot.

The Knights will be without full-back Kalyn Ponga (shoulder) in their game against the Dragons, with Lachie Miller recalled for his first game since Round 12.

Tyson Frizell, Dane Gagai and Phoenix Crossland were all rested, while Lachlan Fitzgibbon and Jackson Hastings are on an extended bench as they hope to return ahead of next week's home elimination final.

Dally-M medalist Nicho Hynes is a huge addition to the Sharks side who need to beat the Raiders to secure a home final.

A similar scenario applies to Canberra, who will be without veteran support player Josh Papalii, who will be out for the remainder of the season with a bicep injury while Jack Wighton remains at centre.

The Warriors have also opted to ditch their top talent as Shaun Johnson, Addin Fonua-Blake and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak are all rested, while Tohu Harris (back) will also miss the game against the Dolphins.

And Tevita Pangai Junior's career with the Bulldogs is over after he was not selected for their game against the Titans, while the Tigers will be without John Bateman (ribs) and Stefano Utoikamanu (HIA) on their trip to Manly.

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