2016 NRL

Smith set to return as Cronk needs time

Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk both had a say in Queensland's 6-4 win over New South Wales in Origin I on Wednesday night and while Craig Bellamy is expecting his captain to take the field on Saturday, he's still unsure as to whether Cooper Cronk has recovered from an ankle injury suffered during Queensland's training camp.

"Cameron's come back and he looks like he's moving OK, so we'll see how he trains later today," Bellamy said. 

Sharks happy to be the hunted

Sitting atop the NRL Telstra Premiership ladder for the first time since Round 2, 2000, Sharks coach Shane Flanagan said while the team was aware of their table-topping status they hadn't made a great deal about it. 

An inconsistent Bulldogs outfit threatens Cronulla's eight-game winning streak, and Flanagan expects Des Hasler's squad to be on song this week.

Flanagan also confirmed New South Wales Origin trio James Maloney, Andrew Fifita and skipper Paul Gallen would all be fit to face the Bulldogs.

Cordner relishing first Origin starting spot

The Taree product has played all five of his Origins to date – three last year, the 2014 Game Three dead rubber and the losing 2013 decider – off the bench, for just one win so far.

With a clean out of sorts in the NSW forward pack this year with the likes of Beau Scott, Ryan Hoffman and Trent Merrin joining Luke Lewis and Anthony Watmough in being moved on by Blues coach Laurie Daley, Cordner finds himself named to start in his sixth interstate appearance and is relishing the opportunity.

Praise for Tigers' 80-minute effort

Playing a Broncos team who were without six players on Origin duty, the Tigers were also minus Robbie Farah, Aaron Woods and James Tedesco but dominated the vast majority of the contest before finally squeaking away with a 19-18 win courtesy of a Mitchell Moses field goal five minutes from full-time.

Having been on the ropes for most of the second half the Broncos almost landed a knockout blow when they threw some late haymakers but young Tigers halves Luke Brooks and Moses showed just enough composure to steer their side home.

Young Cowboys expect to get targeted

The challenges come two-fold for both players. Hughes will step up from the fullback position at Intrust Super Cup level to the front line at NRL level, while Hess' physical challenge shifts from playing second row in the under-20s to a front-row or lock role in top grade.

Both will line up in their second NRL games, with Hughes making his debut as an 18-year-old with Gold Coast and Hess arriving onto the scene for the Cowboys in Round 25 last year against the Warriors.

Graham backs his skipper to play on in 2017

While Gallen announced that this year would mark the end of his representative career with the New South Wales Blues, the inspirational lock forward has given no indication as to whether he'll run out for his beloved club again in 2017. 

Gallen has played 267 games for the Sharks since making his debut back in 2001 and has shown no signs of slowing down, averaging 147 metres per game this season. 

Walker admits shock over Origin selection

Walker was moving into his new apartment at the time of Daley's call which only added to the excitement of the day.

While ultimately stoked by his selection, the 21-year-old Australian international admitted he hadn't been in the best form of late for the Sea Eagles.

Walker is hoping his Origin debut will do him the world of good in what has been a tough initiation in the halves since his off-season move to the Northern Beaches.

Moylan out to make NSW No.1 his own

Jarryd Hayne (2014) and Josh Dugan (2015) were both awarded the Brad Fittler Medal for being NSW's best players in recent series for their exploits at fullback, but Moylan doesn't want to get caught up in comparisons with those superstars.

While Hayne was an all-round attacking weapon and Dugan a metre-eating maestro, Moylan's strength lies in his ability to create opportunities for others. 

Titans steal late win in Penrith

The Titans were never once in the lead until Don's try which secured his side a second-consecutive win. 

It was a lesson of persistence for the Gold Coast who were forced to equal the ledger four times throughout the game.

All looked lost for them too when Penrith's Leilani Latu scored his first ever NRL try in the 71st minute. However an ugly error from Panthers skipper Matt Moylan under the high ball provided the Titans excellent territory for an Ashley Taylor try four minutes later.

NRL backs calls for commentators to pronounce Pacific rugby players' names correctly

NRL education and wellbeing manager Nigel Vagana told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat the onus is on commentators and broadcast networks to educate themselves.

"It should be a given for any person that your name is said properly, whether you're in the NRL or not. It's a sign of respect," the former player said.