SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 11: Scott Drinkwater of the Cowboys celebrates with team mates after scoring a try during the round five NRL match between the Wests Tigers and the North Queensland Cowboys at Leichhardt Oval, on April 11, 2021, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

The NRL's Round 5 team lists have dropped with plenty of surprises across the 16 sides.

Here are all the big talking points.


Anthony Griffin sticks to his guns in baffling selections
After being hammered by the Parramatta Eels on Sunday evening, it was widely assumed that Anthony Griffin and the St George Illawarra Dragons would go straight back to Tyrell Sloan and Talatau Amone.

But that hasn't happened.

Instead, Griffin has named the same team who were smoked on Sunday by a rampant team in blue and gold. Mbye remaining at fullback is particularly baffling, while Jack Bird had started the season brilliantly on the edge, but is now being forced to play in the halves.

It also makes a mockery of the seemingly permanent move of Tariq Sims to the middle third, although he was among the Dragons' "best" against the Eels, if it was possible to call any of the Dragons players that.

Griffin must get a significant response from his beaten team, or the calls for mass change at the Red V will only grow louder in the coming weeks.

NRL Rd 1 - Dragons v Sharks
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 14: Dragons head coach Anthony Griffin speaks to the media during the round one NRL match between the St George Illawarra Dragons and the Cronulla Sharks at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, on March 14, 2021, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Manly back youth to replace their Turbo
Tom Trbojevic's knee injury - which will rule him out for a month with surgery needed - is undoubtedly a major blow for the Sea Eagles, given their fantastic record with the New South Wales State of Origin star who took out the 2021 Dally M Medal despite only playing 15 regular season games.

Given Manly have had a fairly indifferent start to the new year, the timing of Trbojevic's injury only gets worse.

However, that blow has been softened, with fans to get a chance to have a glimpse of Tolutau Koula at fullback, while Christian Tuipolotu takes up a spot in the centres, keeping Brad Parker - who missed last week with coronavirus - out of the side.

It could be the case that Parker will be a matchday decision to play in the centres given he has been named among the reserves, but the way the side has been named, Hasler is favouring youth for this weekend's clash, and that can only be a positive sign.

Bulldogs change halves - again
Kyle Flanagan will come into Canterbury's side this weekend, presenting the third halves combination for the blue and white in five weeks as Trent Barrett desperately searches for answers to save a season which has crawled off the start line.

While Flanagan might be the best "NRL-ready" halfback available at Belmore, which should allow Matt Burton to do his thing, there are major problems brewing at the club.

The fact Flanagan didn't play alongside Burton at all during the pre-season trials, as well as the fact Canterbury can't seem to pick and stick with a team is a major cause for concern.

It appears Barrett doesn't really know what his best 17 is at this stage, and while some clubs will grapple with that issue for much of the season, giving neither Jake Averillor or Brandon Wakeham a chance to properly come in and play first grade for a number of weeks with a chance to get settled is mind boggling.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 27: Kyle Flanagan of the Bulldogs looks to pass during the round three NRL match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Canterbury Bulldogs at Suncorp Stadium on March 27, 2021, in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Drinkwater finally gets his opportunity... Kind of
The North Queensland Cowboys shut up a lot of doubters in Round 2 and 3 with big wins over the Canberra Raiders and Brisbane Broncos.

Given the form of those two clubs in recent times though, it almost appears as if that confidence in Tom Dearden and Chad Townsend to not be the same player as one another and to guide the team around was a little bit premature.

Scott Drinkwater has sat in the grandstand watching the opening three rounds, but finally gets his opportunity to impress this week when he takes over from Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, who will miss two to three weeks with a PCL injury.

Drinkwater could play himself into the team with a spot in the halves on the back of a pair of strong performances though, with his running and ball playing seemingly something the Cowboys are lacking - or certainly did against the Roosters last Saturday in Townsville.

Roosters get prop combination right - now to stick with it
Speaking of the Roosters, and they have made the call to bring Jared Waerea-Hargreaves back into the starting side, seemingly for good.

He was a late inclusion during Round 4 after coming from the interchange bench during the opening three rounds, and while it's difficult to put your finger on exactly what has been going wrong for the Roosters, Waerea-Hargreaves coming off the bench certainly wasn't helping matters.

He was back in the starting side last week after a late swap with Lindsay Collins, and it made an almost immediate impact.

Nothing against Collins, who is an excellent prop, but Waerea-Hargreaves must start for Trent Robinson's side.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 06: Jared Waerea-Hargreaves of the Roosters celebrates winning the 2019 NRL Grand Final match between the Canberra Raiders and the Sydney Roosters at ANZ Stadium on October 06, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Blake Taaffe returns, but what can he do from the bench?
Blake Taaffe's far longer than expected lay off from injury is over this week, with the youngster names on Jason Demetriou's bench for South Sydney's clash against the struggling Dragons on Saturday evening at Homebush.

What his role will be off the bench remains to be seen, but he undoubtedly had to be selected, so good has he been in limited appearances for the Rabbitohs, including during last year's finals series as he filled in for Latrell Mitchell.

The problem with Taaffe as a utility is that he is far too small to play in the forwards. The only realistic option for game time outside of a backline injury would be to put him on at fullback and have Latrell Mitchell move to the centres, with Taane Milne then moving into the second row or even middle, but that seems pie in the sky stuff, and also removes the impact of Mitchell at the back.

What South Sydney won't want to do is waste a spot on Taaffe, but Demetriou is in a tricky spot here and it'll be intriguing to see how the young fullback is used on Saturday.