Hero axed for grand final qualifier

THE scourge of North Queensland last Friday night, Sea Eagles winger Michael Oldfield, has been axed for Friday night's first grand final qualifier against the Melbourne Storm.

Oldfield, to leave Manly for the Roosters at season's end, was the man who pounced on the ball in goal following the controversial aerial challenge between Cowboys skipper Johnathan Thurston and Sea Eagles five-eighth Kieran Foran.

The ensuing benefit-of-the-doubt decision from the video referees has continued to generate headlines all week.

The Manly winger also scored the first try of the match last Friday night, but was dropped to make way for centre Steve Matai. He is returning from suspension.

Dean Whare, who is also leaving the Sea Eagles, for Penrith, has been switched back to the wing.

The Sea Eagles also named co-captain Jason King, who missed the entire second half last week with a shoulder injury.

King is expected to play, as is lock Glenn Stewart, halfback Daly Cherry-Evans and interchange forward Joe Galuvao, all of whom are carrying injuries.

Four of the injured Storm players who missed their opening finals match - Will Chambers, Sika Manu, Jason Ryles and Todd Lowrie - were recalled for the AAMI Park clash with the reigning premier. However, Ryles and Lowrie find themselves on the bench.

Chambers is back in the centres to partner Queensland Origin player Dane Neilsen, with Justin O'Neill moving to the wing.

Kiwi international Manu returns to the second row, with Kevin Proctor moving back to the bench.

Veteran winger Anthony Quinn (calf) was not considered because of injury and rookie winger Mahe Fonua, who scored his maiden NRL try against the Rabbitohs in week one of the finals, was picked on a seven-man bench.

The Rabbitohs welcome back 10-year veteran winger Nathan Merritt for their clash with the Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night.

Merritt, out last week with a shoulder injury, will play his 200th NRL game, but just his second in a final.

His selection was the only change to the Souths team that convincingly beat the Raiders last weekend, with Issac Luke retained at hooker and Luke Burgess in the front row.

Kingaroy Red Ants junior Chris McQueen is again in the centres after the season-ending injury to Matt King, and rookie Andrew Everingham, the scorer of two tries last weekend, remains on the wing.

Coach Michael McGuire has also named an extended bench of Nathan Peats, David Tyrrell, Eddy Pettybourne, Ben Lowe, Justin Hunt and Jason Clark.

Minor premier the Bulldogs are the only unchanged side for the weekend.

They have, however, added Dene Halatau to give them a five-man bench.



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