Preliminary Finals Team Tips, Siliva Havili, Alex Johnston, Jai Arrow, Rabbitohs, Charlie Staines, Taylan May, Panthers, Eels Brad Arthur, Tom Opacic, finals teams, ins and outs

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South Sydney will be without utility Siliva Havili, with coach Jason Demetriou ruling him out due to as calf injury, according to AAP.

The Rabbitohs are sweating on the fitness of three stars for their preliminary final with the Panthers, with Alex Johnston racing the clock to be fit for Saturday’s crunch clash.

The Daily Telegraph’s Dave Riccio reported Johnston (hip), Jai Arrow (groin) and Jed Cartwright were all in the casualty tent at Souths’ training on Tuesday.

Johnston is considered the most at risk of missing the Panthers clash, with the winger preparing for days of intense physiotherapy in a desperate bid to take the field.

“It will be touch and go,” Johnston told The Telegraph.

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“I feel pretty confident the way it’s recovered from yesterday to today. if it [stays on that] trajectory, I’ll be right.

“We’re doing everything we can. There’s been plenty of physio. I’ll do everything I can to get out there.” I’m not sure when I’ll start running again. Today and tomorrow will be a lot of physio and preparing to run. Hopefully I’ll start running by the end of the week.”

Johnston revealed the nature of the injury will make it difficult to needle in a bid to play through the pain.

“I don’t think you can needle it,” he said.

“It’s a muscle thing. I’ll rest, physio and rest up. I knew when it happened it was a hip flexor.

“I stayed out there for a while to see if I could do my job, but it got to the point I thought it was best if I came off and someone could do the job better than me.

“I’m on so much pain medicine right now it’s ridiculous.”

Panthers coach Ivan Cleary could reportedly switch one of his Origin stars as he looks to replace the suspended Taylan May.

Eels center Tom Opacic, meanwhile faces a crucial fitness test on Monday afternoon to determine whether he faces the Cowboys while Brad Arthur could pull a big switch after an outside back’s injury.

Rabbitoh’s coach Jason Demetriou is sweating on the fitness of three key stars after their sudden-death victory over the Sharks.

Read below for your preliminary finals team tips!

FRIDAY

North Queensland Cowboys v Parramatta Eels, 7.50pm AEST at Queensland Country Bank Stadium Stadium

Cowboys qualifying final team: 1 Scott Drinkwater 2 Kyle Feldt 3 Valentine Holmes 4 Peta Hiku 5 Murray Taulagi 6 Tom Dearden 7 Chad Townsend 8 Jordan McLean 9 Reece Robson 10 Reuben Cotter 15 Tom Gilbert 12 Jeremiah Nanai 13 Jason Taumalolo 11 Luciano Leilua 14 Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow 16 Coen Hess 17 Griffin Neame

Team Tips:The Cowboys got through their 93-minute contest with the Sharks unscathed two weekends ago and will likely field the same 17. Todd Payten has also been making late changes, with Tom Gilbert slotting into the starting side for Luciano Leilua. Expect the North Queensland side to do the same.

Last week’s Eels team: 1st Clinton Gutherson 2nd Maika Sivo 3rd Viliami Penisini 4th Tom Opacic 5th Waqa Blake 6th Dylan Brown 7th Mitchell Moses 8th Reagan Campbell-Gillard 9th Reed Mahoney 10th Junior Paulo 11th Shaun Lane 12th Isaiah Papali ‘i 17. Marata Niukore 13. Ryan Matterson 14. Makahesi Makatoa 15. Jacob Arthur 16. Oregon Kaufusi

Team Tips:Parramatta centre Tom Opacic doesn’t know when he suffered the hamstring injury last week that threatens to scratch him from the preliminary final.

“I didn’t feel a pop or a pull or anything. It just felt tight and it got tighter than I kept running,” Opacic said on Monday. I told the physio and thought I’d get it checked. Where the game was at the time, it was a precaution more than anything (to come off).

“I didn’t feel it go completely, so I knew it wasn’t something that would rule me out for the season. It was more a case of me not wanting to aggravate it anymore to do anything significant. “If the game was in the balance, there was no way I was going to put my hand up.” Opacic has been icing his hamstring for the past three days and will face his first fitness test on Monday afternoon when the Eels hold a training session at their facilities in Kellyville.

Opacic has played 19 games for the Eels this season and has formed a reliable combination with Maika Sivo on the left edge and will be given every chance to play in Friday’s blockbuster up in Townsville as the Eels look to qualify for their first grand final since 2009 .

“The physios said they’d give him every chance to be able to prove he’s healthy and ready to play,” skipper Clint Gutherson said. “Tommy has been doing a great job for us in the centres. If he’s ready to go, then he’s ready to go. We haven’t even spoken about who comes in.”

The Daily Telegraph’s David Riccio also said Brad Arthur could make a shock play to fill his center void, slotting Marata Niukore into the outside backs. “The one I understand that he’s favoring and will name tomorrow on team-list Tuesday is playing Marata Niukore,” Riccio said on SEN. “The bigger body, the back-rower, in the centres, keeping Waqa Blake on the wing.” Bailey Simonsson is another option to take a spot on the wing, with Blake shifting to the centres. If Niukore moves into the backs, Bryce Cartwright or Nathan Brown will likely slot onto the bench.

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SATURDAY

Penrith Panthers v South Sydney Rabbitohs, 7.50pm AEST at Accor Stadium

Panthers qualifying final team: 1 Dylan Edwards 2 Taylan May 3 Izack Tago 4 Stephen Crichton 5 Brian To’o 6 Jarome Luai 7 Nathan Cleary 8 Moses Leota 14 Mitch Kenny 10 James Fisher-Harris 11 Viliame Kikau 12 Liam Martin 13 Isaah Yeo 9 Apisai Koroisau 15 Scott Sorensen 16 Spencer Leniu 17 Jaeman Salmon

Team Tips:Younggun Taylor May will his side’s huge grand final rematch after he was handed a one-game suspension for a high tackle on Eels flyer Will Penisini. The 21-year-old also suffered a hamstring injury and could be in doubt for the grand final should Penrith beat the Rabbitohs this week. The Sydney Morning Herald reports Charlie Staines is set to replace him with Ivan Cleary considering switching Brian To’o to the left wings. That would allow Staines to partner Stephen Crichton on the right.

To’o said Staines was ready to go: “He’s worked twice as hard. He’s always trying to improve the little things in his game,” he said.

“Whether he plays this week or not, he’s always going to put his best foot forward and put the team first.

“Wherever coach puts me, left, right … it doesn’t matter. I’ll do my job for the boys and it’s team first.”

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Last week’s Rabbitohs team: 1 Latrell Mitchell 2 Alex Johnston 3 Isaiah Tass 4 Campbell Graham 5 Taane Milne 6 Cody Walker 7 Lachlan Ilias 8 Tevita Tatola 9 Damien Cook 10 Mark Nicholls 11 Keaon Koloamatangi 12 Jai Arrow 13 Cameron Murray 14 Kodi Nikorima 15 Hame Sele 16 Michael Chee Kam 17 Siliva Havili

Team Tips: The Rabbitohs are sweating on the fitness of a number of players after a big win over the Sharks. Utilities Siliva Havili has been ruled out by Jason demetriou, according to AAP. Younggun Peter Mamouzelos could be the man to take the No.14 jersey. Jai Arrow also had a groin niggle but is set to play, while flyer Alex Johnston suffered a hip flexor injury and is racing the clock to prove his fitness, according to The Daily Telegraph’s Dave Riccio. “AJ has a hip flexor but again, not serious, fingers crossed we can get stuck into the rehab and fingers crossed we can get them all back,” Jason Demetriou said in the post-match press conference. Jason Paulo or Izaac Thompson could slot into Johnston’s place if he is ruled out.

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