Cowboys coach claims Tariq not dumped from starting side

Tariq Sims of the Cowboys looks on during the round two NRL match between the North Queensland Cowboys and the Melbourne Storm at 1300SMILES Stadium on March 16, 2013 in Townsville, Australia.
Tariq Sims of the Cowboys looks on during the round two NRL match between the North Queensland Cowboys and the Melbourne Storm at 1300SMILES Stadium on March 16, 2013 in Townsville, Australia. Ian Hitchcock / Getty Images

THE NRL return of Tariq Sims, who has suffered broken legs in successive seasons, has been short-lived with the boom Cowboys back-rower relegated to Queensland Cup this weekend.

Coach Neil Henry denies Sims has been dropped, saying the Blues Origin aspirant needed more game time after averaging 30 minutes in each of the first two rounds.

Scott Bolton is the replacement for Sims against the Knights in Newcastle next Monday night.

Considering he had the least amount of time on the field against the Storm last weekend, Sims' stats were better than the other three backrowers used - Glenn Hall, Gavin Cooper and Jason Taumalolo - who have been retained.

Halfback Robert Lui has also missed out, coach Henry preferring Michael Morgan for the injured Ray Thompson (ankle).

Newcastle has named a returning Timana Tahu to replace Dane Gagai (ankle) in the centres, while David Fa'alogo debuts for the Knights, replacing Willie Mason (calf).

The Bulldogs are still without the big four - Ben Barba, Sam Kasiano, Frank Pritchard and James Graham - for their grand final re-match with the Storm at AAMI Park tomorrow night.

Coach Des Hasler has named the same side that scraped in against the Eels last weekend.

For the Storm, Knights recruit Junior Sa'u replaces centre Justin O'Neill (broken jaw) in their only change.

Centre Justin Hodges has been named for the Broncos, who take on the Roosters at Allianz Stadium on Saturday, while Ben Hunt, Nick Slyney and Dunamis Lui have been added to make a six-man bench.

The Roosters are unchanged.

The Sharks and Warriors will both field the same line-ups as in round two, with hooker Isaac De Gois again unavailable for the Sharks. Second rower Luke Lewis is in doubt with an ankle injury.

Tom Humble is the new Panthers five-eighth for their Sunday afternoon clash with the Rabbitohs at Centrebet Stadium, replacing Lachlan Coote who is out for the season with a pectoral tear.

Sam Burgess is back from suspension in the only change for Souths.

Ricky Stuart has named two debutants for the Eels clash with the Tigers at Leichhardt Oval on Friday night - winger Vai Toutai and second rower Ken Edwards.

Ava Seumanufagai makes his debut for the Tigers, replacing prop Keith Galloway in the squad.

Ashley Harrison plays his 250th NRL match when the unchanged Titans meet the unchanged Sea Eagles at Skilled Park on Saturday evening, and while the Dragoons are unchanged for their trip to Canberra, Raiders hooker Shaun Berrigan has been replaced by Glen Buttriss and prop Dane Tilse by Brett White.

Berrigan and Tilse are on a seven-man bench.

Topics:  neil henry north queensland cowboys nrl rugby league tariq sims

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