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Asofa-Solomona set for JWH showdown in Storm return

George Clarke -

Nelson Asofa-Solomona is set to renew unpleasantries with Jared Waerea-Hargreaves as Craig Bellamy throws the Melbourne man mountain in at the deep end for his first minutes of NRL in 2024.

After several weeks of conjecture surrounding his fitness and future, Asofa-Solomona has been named for the Storm's grudge match with the Sydney Roosters.

Asofa-Solomona and Waerea-Hargreaves have had their fair share of running battles and Thursday's meeting at Allianz Stadium is expected to be no different.

The inclusion of New Zealand prop Asofa-Solomona will give Melbourne some much-needed starch up the middle.

The Roosters, who will wear black armbands following the deadly Bondi Junction knife attack, welcome back captain James Tedesco and have stuck with Connor Watson and Luke Keary in the halves.

Elsewhere, Zac Lomax reverts to the centres for St George Illawarra as the Dragons face the Warriors on Friday without Jack Bird.

Club debutant Christian Tuipulotu takes Lomax's spot on the wing in Wollongong.

In Friday's other game, the Dolphins will blood rookie Trai Fuller at fullback against Parramatta, who have recalled utility Blaize Talagi to the bench.

On Saturday, Phillip Sami will wear the Titans' No.1 jersey as coach Des Hasler faces Manly for the first time since his sacking from the club in 2022.

The Sea Eagles are boosted by Jason Saab, Reuben Garrick and Nathan Brown all passing fitness tests to face the Gold Coast.

It is a similar story for the Wests Tigers as they take on Penrith in Bathurst on Saturday.

John Bateman, Lachlan Galvin and Brent Naden all return to the 17, with coach Benji Marshall axing Solomona Faataape and Jayden Sullivan.

Canberra have moved Ata Mariota into the second-row away to Brisbane as new recruit Zac Hosking faces a six-week lay-off with a shoulder injury.

In Sunday's games, Canterbury have shifted Stephen Crichton back to the centres with Connor Tracey slotting in at fullback for their meeting with Newcastle.

The Knights have named captain Kalyn Ponga despite the fullback struggling with injury in their most-recent outing against the Sydney Roosters.

North Queensland winger Murray Taulagi has been replaced by Semi Valemei after picking up a hamstring injury.

The Cowboys face Cronulla on Sunday, with the Sharks naming Braden Hamlin-Uele on the bench for the first time this season.

George Clarke

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