Late Mail

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The Gus and Webby Show

Phil Gould and Andrew Webster discuss the return of Benji Marshall to the NRL.

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South Sydney winger Nathan Merritt has been dumped to the NSW Cup, with youngster Alex Johnston set to receive his first call up to the NRL.

Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire's decision to axe the one-time NSW representative comes after the flyer became the leading try-scorer in South Sydney's history two rounds ago.

Merritt is off contract at season's end, and the move calls into question his long-term future at the club.

Slept in ... Nathan Merritt.

Dumped to NSW Cup ... veteran winger Nathan Merritt. Photo: Getty Images

Johnston played the part of a young Greg Inglis in the NRL’s 2009 season advertisement. The 19-year-old is a rangy outside back who has had a distinguished junior representative career, having played for Australian schoolboys and NSW in its under-16 and under-18 sides.

He is in line to make his debut against the Broncos on Friday night. Brisbane could be without five-eighth Josh Hoffman, who failed to complete training on Thursday with a strained Achilles. Ben Barba could switch from fullback to cover Hoffman. 

Tyson Frizell is expected to play for St George Illawarra despite spending part of the Dragons' captain's run training away from the regular group. The Sydney Roosters are expected to be unchanged in the annual Anzac Day clash.

Melbourne and the Warriors should be 1-17 for their game in Melbourne.

Beau Ryan and Anthony Tupou are expected to play their first game of the season for the Sharks when they face Penrith on Saturday afternoon.

North Queensland and Parramatta are set to be unchanged for their game in Townsville.

Newcastle back-rower Jeremy Smith is struggling with an ongoing knee injury. The Kiwi Test player will have a fitness test on Friday before the Knights' game against Canterbury on Sunday. If he does not play, Robbie Rochow is expected to start from the interchange bench and David Fa'alogo will earn a promotion from NSW Cup.

Manly's Jamie Lyon will again play five-eighth in Kieran Foran's absence against Canberra

Titans utility Maurice Blair is in doubt with a wrist injury he picked up in the loss to Penrith on Monday. Gold Coast remains hopeful Will Zillman can make a belated return from an ongoing hamstring strain in time to play the Wests Tigers on Sunday.