Origin has taken it's toll through injury and suspension. Although this is technically the final Origin affected round, teams will be feeling the after effects right up to finals.
Dragons v Titans (Fri 15/07, 7.50pm)
Some big omissions for the Dragons this weekend will make it a tough task for the 'Big Red V'. Marshall will miss his 250th game and the celebrations will have to wait. While Dugan looks set to miss 3-4 weeks after Inglis touched him up in Origin. The woes don't stop there for the Dragons as the titans have some big names returning in Taylor, Hurrell and Friend. The man to watch in this match is Greg Bird. Left off the Origin list by NSW, and publicly not happy about it. The Dragons might just cop the brunt of Laurie Daleys selection choices. Titans to win.
Sea Eagles v Warriors (Sat 16/07, 5.30pm)
A really interesting contest is looming here. The Warriors are enjoying the spoils of their Origin purple patch. While the Sea Eagles they have DCE and Lyon in the halves, and ever since they pushed the Cowboys for 80 minutes in Townsville in round 16 they have looked a different side. I hate to say this because Steward has been a great fullback for a long time but Manly should have had Trbojevic at fullback earlier in the season and maybe had Stewart on the Wing. He is ready to take over the No 1. for manly. Big Manu returns for the Warrirors along with Hoffman, and with the match been played in Perth both sides will be hoping for a dry fast track. It will be interesting to see how the sea Eagles go about trying to contain Johnson if he can get his feet moving. I really can't split this one. If you believe in curses tip Manly because the Warriors can;t seem to win in Perth, for me the toss of the coin goes to the Warriors to firm up their top 8 spot.
Rabbitohs v Broncos (Sat 16/07, 7.30pm)
The Broncos need a win more than Chris Froome needed a new bike on Mont Vontoux in stage 12 of the Tour de France. For the Rabbitohs, if they keep sacking players at the rate they are the North Sydney bears (who are the Rabbitohs feeder club) might find themselves back n the competition. The Rabbitohs have lost Inglis through suspension and such a missive out has probably well and truly derailed their season. The good news for the Rabbitohs is that Reynolds is back. Kahu coming back into the side for the Broncos strengthens them out wide where Melbourne so heavily exploited them. Their problem will be up the middle as they are missing Parker, who would normally account for Burgess. Both sides desperate for a win means we will probably see the ball thrown about a fair bit. I'm expecting Milford and Hunt to finally start to click again and if McGuire can get them a decent platform this might be the round that Brisbane plays themselves back into form. The thing standing in their way is a poor record at ANZ. However I think the bunnies are in too much disarray off field and wont be able to get themselves together.
Knights v Storm (Sun 17/07, 2.00pm)
The Melbourne Storm Origin pair always back up, and they always back up well. The Storm will still be without Munster who has provided so much from the back this year. The Knights have looked so much better in recent weeks and will be further buoyed by the return of Mullen. It was heartbreaking to see them lose to the Raiders. With everything the Knights have had to deal with this season, it would be nice for their young team to at least get one win by time we draw close to 2017. Unfortunately this wont be the week. The Storm will play enough football to keep them in the game and only explode on Newcastle if absolutely necessary. Bellamy will want them to time their run home to September and blowing sides off the park wont be on the agenda. Comfortable win for Melbourne.
Panthers v Eels (Sun 17/07, 4.00pm)
I just can't understand how the Eels have continued to win this year with everything that is going on. I think this week they might finally fall to Penrith. Moylan and Mansour, although sore from Origin will be all the better for the run. Mansour was one of NSW most solid players this year (apart from the slip over that lead to Boyd's try), and he is one of those players that could could go from good to great just from having Origin experience. Penrith will also welcome back Peachey who has been their x-Factor this year. The most notable chink in the Eels Armour is that they have had to stand Corey Norman down. With Radradra also suffering a potential season ending injury, these missing players could be the final nail in the coffin. Penrith should beat the under strength side. My biggest hope out of this contest is that we get another appearance from Pepper the cat.
Roosters v Sharks (Mon 18/07, 7.00pm)
The Sharks didn't miss their Origin stars as they went through Penrith last week to extend their run to 13 on the trot. No need to be superstitious about the number 13. because not even a black cat on the field last week could stop their run. With their Origin players backing up not only should they extend their streak to 14, if you look at their draw there is no reason why Cronulla don't go unbeaten for the rest of the season. The Roosters have Pearce back, but even so they just don't look the side they were over the last couple of years. Ennis will target the big men in the middle and Ben Barba should cause plenty of headaches too. The Roosters appear to be leaving out Guerra and Ferguson and resting them after Origin. The Roosters season is essentially over and the Sharks will make it a foregone conclusion come Monday evening.