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Manly fullback Tom Trbojevic.

Million-dollar men Kalyn Ponga and Tom Trbojevic are poised to return this week but the game's pre-eminent fullback James Tedesco will sit out as finals-bound sides rest some big names.

Tedesco – reportedly poised to sign a multimillion-dollar extension that will make him a Rooster for life – is the biggest absentee in round 19, with Trent Robinson resting his star No.1 against Cronulla.

Siosiua Taukeiaho will also have a breather as Joey Manu lines up at fullback, while utility Mitch Aubusson fittingly goes past Anthony Minichiello's club record of 302 games by filling in at centre.

Captain Boyd Cordner has also been named after being cleared of a concussion last week as Jared Waerea-Hargreaves returns from his own one-week rest.

Penrith will give gun hooker Api Koroisau and veteran props James Tamou and Zane Tetavano a break instead of making the all-day trek to Townsville on Friday.

Jack Hetherington is back for his first Panthers game since his loan to the Warriors ended, while for the Cowboys Jason Taumalolo (calf) is in the frame for a return in jersey No.18.

One club Papalii

Ponga, meanwhile, returns for the Knights as Adam O'Brien opts for rookie playmaker Tex Hoy as Mitchell Pearce's latest scrumbase partner, with five-eighth Mason Lino axed.

Twenty-year-old to Hoy will start a game for just the third time in his career.

Newcastle take on the Dragons on Sunday, needing a win to keep hopes of a first home final since 2006 alive.

Manly are no longer in finals contention but have named Trbojevic in their extended reserves for Saturday's clash with the Titans.

The Sea Eagles No.1 has been sidelined since Round 6 when he suffered his latest hamstring issue, having been limited to just 18 games in the last two years by injuries.

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Trbojevic's potential return is significant in the context of NSW's Origin campaign, though coach Brad Fittler has already indicated he is willing to pick the 23-year-old, likely at centre, off limited game time.

Melbourne have opted to keep fellow Blues Origin contender Ryan Papenhuyzen on ice with an Achilles injury for their clash with his old Wests Tigers outfit.

Brandon Smith has been named in the Storm's 21-man squad as his recovery from a broken jaw nears completion, while Josh Reynolds gets another crack in the No.6 jersey for the visitors after Luke Brooks' suspension.

Meanwhile, a training accident that knocked out Brisbane's Brodie Croft on Tuesday has handed Tyson Gamble a crack in the halves against the Eels after Croft was initially slated to replace Sean O'Sullivan at five-eighth.

Payne Haas will not play against Parramatta, with the Broncos given him the chance to leave their COVID-19 bubble and be with his family following the death of his brother Chace last month.

Reed Mahoney is back from a shoulder injury for the Eels.

Acknowledgement of Country

New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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