BRISBANE - Wallabies winger Digby Ioane and rising flanker Liam Gill both return in the Queensland Reds team that will bid to keep their Super Rugby title defence alive when they play the NSW Waratahs tomorrow.
Ioane was included in the team named on Thursday after missing last weekend's win over the Highlanders because of a bout of pneumonia while Gill has overcome a hamstring strain.
Wallabies lock Rob Simmons was named to play the final round match despite being unable to train with the team because of a severe cork injury.
The Reds need a bonus-point victory over their traditional rivals to have a solid shot at the play-offs.
Queensland team: Luke Morahan, Dom Shipperley, Anthony Faingaa, Mike Harris, Digby Ioane, Quade Cooper, Will Genia (capt), Scott Higginbotham, Liam Gill, Jake Schatz, Adam Wallace-Harrison, Rob Simmons, James Slipper, Saia Faingaa, Greg Holmes.
Res: James Hanson, Ben Daley, Radike Samo, Beau Robinson, Jarrad Butler, Ben Lucas, Ben Tapuai.
One match ban
SYDNEY - Wests Tigers back-rower Adam Blair will miss tomorrow night's clash against Penrith after being found guilty of a dangerous contact charge at the NRL judiciary on Wednesday night.
In a verdict which could set a dangerous precedent, given the innocuous nature of the incident, the Kiwi international was banned for one match for causing unnecessary pressure to Josh Morris' leg in Friday's loss to Canterbury.
As Morris attempted to get to his feet to play the ball, Blair grabbed his leg and twisted it sideways, but there seemed little force to the tackle, as the Bulldogs centre played on immediately.
ARLC prosecutor Peter Kite claimed Blair had dropped the shoulder into Morris' hamstring and had intent to injure his knee when he twisted it sideways, a claim Blair refuted.
SYDNEY - Wallabies lock Sitaleki Timani is back in the NSW Waratahs starting side, but an injury to No.8 Wycliff Palu has caused a minor pack reshuffle for Saturday's Super Rugby clash with Queensland in Brisbane.
Palu injured his shoulder against the Brumbies last weekend. Timani will join Southern Districts clubmate Luke Douglas in the second row. Dean Mumm, who is set to play his final game for the Waratahs before joining English club Exeter, moves from the second row to blindside flanker, with Dave Dennis switching from that position to No.8.
"Dave has been one of our form players this year and we are very confident in his all-round skill set," Waratahs coach Michael Foley said. "Having him play at No.8 is not new to us (he played there against the Stormers) and it allows us to pick Sita in the second row alongside Kane."
Waratahs: Adam Ashley-Cooper, Lachie Turner, Rob Horne, Berrick Barnes, Drew Mitchell, Bernard Foley, Grayson Hart, Dave Dennis, Chris Alcock, Dean Mumm, Kane Douglas, Sitaleki Timani, Paddy Ryan, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson (capt).
Res: John Ulugia, Jeremy Tilse, Lopeti Timani, Jono Jenkins, Brendan McKibbin, Tom Carter, Tom Kingston.
Dogs sign Dene
SYDNEY - Canterbury's brilliant NRL signing news has continued, with the Bulldogs retaining in-form second-rower Dene Halatau on a one-year extension.
The New Zealand international has started in all 16 games for the Bulldogs this season and is playing his best football since joining the club three years ago from the Wests Tigers, where he won a premiership in 2005.
Halatau's commitment until the end of the 2013 season comes on the back of the recruitment of NSW star Tony Williams and the mid-year poachings of fellow Kiwi internationals Krisnan Inu and Sam Perrett from rival clubs.
The Bulldogs are reportedly in the market for Penrith back-rower Luke Lewis, however it remains to be seen whether the club has the cap space available after extending Halatau.
Halatau, who has played 171 NRL games, said he's enjoying his football this year under new head coach Des Hasler.
Simmons to play
BRISBANE - Queensland's last-round quest to keep their Super Rugby defence alive has received a massive lift with Wallabies lock Rob Simmons set to be named for Saturday night's grudge match against NSW.
On a day the Waratahs ruled out powerhouse duo Wycliff Palu and Sekope Kepu, fellow Australian forward Simmons declared himself a near-certain starter for the Reds at Suncorp Stadium.
Wallabies winger Digby Ioane (pneumonia) and rising flanker Liam Gill (hamstring) are also expected to play after missing last weekend's 19-13 win over the Highlanders.
Simmons suffered a deep cork in the second half which swelled so badly there were fears he might have sustained an injury similar to Reds teammate Rod Davies who was forced to have season-ending surgery.
Highlanders centre Siale Piutau's knee rammed into Simmons' joint and the 22-year-old was worried his name would be added to the Reds' long list of unavailable locks when sent for scans.
SYDNEY - Parramatta forward Ben Smith says he and teammates were not fazed by Jarryd Hayne's absence from Sunday's NRL clash against Manly.
Hayne, who injured his right foot during the State of Origin decider last Wednesday, was reportedly out shopping while the Eels suffered a 40-24 hammering by the reigning premiers at Brookvale Oval.
Smith said he only found out about reports of Hayne's whereabouts on Wednesday, but was not overly concerned. "From a player's perspective, we're not too worried," Smith said.
"He was approved by the coach to do it, he obviously had something important on. "For us it's not a big issue. "He's had a big six weeks with Origin and that, so it's probably good for him to get away."
MELBOURNE - Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy fears his side will be feeling the effects of the brutal State of Origin campaign for some time as they prepare to host North Queensland on Saturday.
Still clinging to the NRL competition lead, the faltering Storm have lost three of their past four games - the last to Canberra in a crushing 40-12 upset.
Melbourne were buoyed by the sight of Billy Slater running strongly on his injured knee at training on Wednesday, but Bellamy said the Test custodian wouldn't be back for the Cowboys.
Maroons and Storm skipper Cameron Smith also trained and is a certainty to play after being rested against the Raiders. Queensland halfback Cooper Cronk sat out training but is also set for his 200th NRL game.
The master coach said the Origin effect could yet linger longer at the club.