AAP Rugby

Manly bring T-Rex back from NRL extinction

By AAP Newswire

Manly have sprung a selection shock and brought Tony Williams back from the NRL wilderness for their elimination final against Cronulla.

With the Sea Eagles stricken by injuries in the past three weeks, Williams has been playing reserve grade for Manly after being let go at the end of last year by Parramatta.

Once one of the most-menacing players in the NRL, Williams played five Tests for Australia in 2011 and 2012, spending most of his career under coach Des Hasler at Manly and Canterbury.

But the 30-year-old has played just six games in the past three seasons, with injuries and off-field problems taking their toll in stints at at Cronulla and Parramatta.

His last first-grade game was more than 16 months ago - on April 29 last year for the Eels.

With almost a third of their top-30 squad injured or suspended, Manly received NRL clearance on Tuesday to name Williams in their 21-man squad.

That list includes back-rowers Joel Thompson (arm), Curtis Sironen (foot), and starting prop Martin Taupau (suspension).

"It's challenging," prop Addin Fonua-Blake said.

"It's a backs-to-the-wall thing like it always is at the club.

"(Coach) Des (Hasler) loves us flying under the radar. It comes with wearing the maroon and white. When you sign up, your back is already against the wall."

Former NSW State of Origin player Williams was cut by Parramatta after recording a second strike under the NRL's illicit drugs policy.

He returned in June for Manly's feeder club Blacktown Workers.

The Sharks have replaced suspended winger Ronaldo Mulitalo with Aaron Gray in their only change.

South Sydney enforcer George Burgess has been named 18th man on return from a nine-week suspension for their qualifying final against the Sydney Roosters.

Rabbitohs flyer James Roberts returns from a two-game ban to replace Dane Gagai (hamstring), while Sam Burgess is out suspended and Tom Burgess has been named on the bench.

The Roosters welcome back Brett Morris and Mitch Aubusson, while Jared Waerea-Hargreaves has been named but must beat a careless high tackle charge at the judiciary.

Canberra have six starters back to face Melbourne. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Jordan Rapana, Sia Soliola and John Bateman had been rested last week, while Joe Tapine (ribs) Joey Leilua (suspension) also return.

The Storm have dropped Brodie Croft to make way for five-eighth Cameron Munster, while Josh Addo-Carr returns on the wing.

Parramatta welcome back lock Nathan Brown (suspension) for their elimination final against Brisbane, while Joe Ofahengaue (calf) returns for the Broncos.