The St George Illawarra Dragons will face the Brisbane Broncos at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, Kogarah on Thursday, June 3. This is your Round 13 game guide.
Hunt snub Dragons gain
Given the question marks over the health of Queensland quartet Cameron Munster, Harry Grant, Kalyn Ponga and AJ Brimson, one would think that Ben Hunt was absolutely bound for Camp Maroons ahead of Origin I next Wednesday.
Alas! Like he does every other week, Hunt rolled into Wollongong's WIN Stadium on Monday unperturbed by Queensland coach Paul Green's rebuke.
Instead he will gear up to face his former Brisbane team alongside fellow Broncos alumni Andrew McCullough, Gerard Beale, Corey Norman, Jack Bird, assistant coach Peter Gentle and head coach Anthony Griffin.
Hunt is yet to lose to the Broncos in four meetings since joining the Red V – a handy omen ahead of Thursday night's clash.
Here come the cavalry
News keeps getting better for the Dragons on the squad availability front.
The imminent return of Matt Dufty from a shoulder AC joint injury could not be any timely given the Dragons' form of late. Six losses in the past seven games has the Red V teetering precariously at eighth spot.
Mikaele Ravalawa and Josh Kerr will line-up against Brisbane following the completion of their respective suspensions, while Jack de Belin has been named on the interchange after featuring in the Dragons' Knock Out Effect NSW Cup game against Western Suburbs last weekend.
De Belin's 44-minute stint was his first taste of rugby league since September, 2018.
Interestingly, Jack Bird will make his first ever start in the forwards in an NRL fixture against the Broncos.
It wasn't too long ago that both the Dragons and Broncos would feel the pinch of mid-year representative football.
2021 has been kind on this front for both combatants ahead of State of Origin I.
Dragons back-rower Tariq Sims will make his starting debut for New South Wales next weekend, while Broncos duo Xavier Coates and Payne Haas have maintained their respective spots for the Maroons and Blues.
Selwyn Cobbo is a name that has only popped up in recent weeks in rugby league circles and now the 190-centimetre 18-year-old is set to make his NRL debut.
Cobbo - who has three tries in six appearances for Wynnum-Manly in the Intrust Super Cup - replaces Coates in the Broncos' 17 not even a week after re-signing with Brisbane.
Matt Lodge and Alex Glenn are timely returns for Brisbane too, in light of Haas's selection for New South Wales.
Anthony Milford wasn't so lucky; dropped for a third time in 2021 for the returning Tyson Gamble from suspension.