Storm rest Origin stars for Titans clash

Cameron Munster won't be putting his hand up for the Storm when they play the Titans.
Cameron Munster won't be putting his hand up for the Storm when they play the Titans.

NRL leaders Melbourne have taken advantage of embattled cellar-dwellars Gold Coast by opting to rest four of their State of Origin stars for their clash on Sunday.

Cameron Munster, Josh Addo-Carr, Will Chambers and Felise Kaufusi have all been given the week off, while Christian Welch is suspended.

Dale Finucane is the only Origin star who will take the field at Cbus Super Stadium in what will be the Titans' first game since the sacking of coach Garth Brennan.

Marion Seve, Sandor Earl, Tino Faasuamaleaui and Tom Eisenhuth have been called into the team, along with makeshift five-eighth Joe Stimson.

Titans caretakers Craig Hodges and Luke Burt have also made wholesale changes for their first game in charge with four new faces in the side.

Shannon Boyd is injured, while Mitch Rein, Will Matthews and club favourite Anthony Don have been demoted to an extended squad.

Dale Copley, Brenko Lee, Leilani Latu and mid-season signing Sam Stone are in, while Michael Gordon could also make return after recovering from blood clots.

In other team news for round 18, St George Illawarra have opted to rest State of Origin star Ben Hunt despite their precarious position on the table.

Hunt is one of four outs for the Dragons, including Jeremy Latimore, Reece Robson and Jacob Host.

Journeyman playmaker Darren Nicholls will start in the No.7, with James Graham, Josh Kerr and Patrick Kaufusi called into the 17.

It will be the club debut for Kaufusi, who was signed using the salary cap dispensation for stood-down star Jack de Belin.

The Dragons visit a Penrith side that have won six on the trot and get Nathan Cleary back from the ankle injury that ruled him out of the Origin decider.

Cronulla get Matt Moylan and Paul Gallen back, although Josh Morris (nose) and Josh Dugan (hamstring) are out for their clash with the Warriors.

Sydney Roosters pair Boyd Cordner and James Tedesco are back from their rest to face a Newcastle outfit that get Kalyn Ponga and Mitch Barnett back too.

Still no sign of Sam Burgess at South Sydney despite being pencilled in for a return last week, with Ethan Lowe in and Liam Knight out.

They're up against a North Queensland side that doesn't have Michael Morgan in their 17 following his Origin concussion.

"He says he's feeling really well but again we just have to see what the scans say and what the specialist says," Cowboys coach Paul Green said on Tuesday.

"We won't take any undue risks with him but obviously he's a key player for us too so we want him out there if he can be."

Tom Trbojevic is also back for Manly, following his rest, against Parramatta.

NRL ROUND 18

THURSDAY

Brisbane v Canterbury at Suncorp Stadium, 7.50pm

FRIDAY

Warriors v Cronulla at Westpac Stadium, 6pm

Penrith v St George Illawarra at Panthers Stadium, 7.55pm

SATURDAY

Sydney Roosters v Newcastle at SCG, 3pm

Canberra v Wests Tigers at GIO Stadium, 5.30pm

North Queensland v South Sydney at 1300SMILES Stadium, 7.35pm

SUNDAY

Gold Coast v Melbourne at Cbus Super Stadium, 2pm

Manly v Parramatta at Brookvale Oval, 4.05pm.

Australian Associated Press