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The X factors of Round 16

More questions remain unanswered than resolved, after clubs named their teams for Round 16 of the Intrust Super Cup last night.

Returning from the representative break, the competition will resume with Townsville narrowly ahead of Burleigh at the head of the ladder, and only one win back to Redcliffe and the Northern Pride.

QRL Media takes a look at the top 10 factors and unknowns that could shape the coming weekend.

10. Is Korbin Sims a chance for Norths Devils?
Sims has never played in the Intrust Super Cup before, however he has played for Norths in Colts and Mal Meninga Cup previously, last pulling on the jersey in 2010. On the road to recovery after a broken jaw suffered in a head clash with Origin forward Dylan Napa, Sims has been named in jersey 18 for the Brisbane Broncos. Norths play Souths Logan at 5pm Saturday, a curtain-raiser to the Broncos v Canberra Raiders NRL clash at Suncorp Stadium.

9. How will Michael Dobson bounce back?
The Wynnum Manly half has been named to play for the first time since May 27, when the club reported he was struggling with a knee injury and would opt for minor surgery. After debuting in the NRL in 2007, he has amassed more than 250 first grade games in Australia and England, but can he lead the Seagulls back from third-last on the ladder?

8. What can we expect of Blackhawks debutant Bacho Salam?
Salam is named for his first game of Intrust Super Cup after a one-year ban for detection of higenamine in his system. In a statement about the issue, Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) said higenamine wass "increasingly detected in dietary supplements", advising that one in five supplements contained prohibited substances. Salam previously represented Queensland Under 20s and featured for North Queensland in the former National Youth Competition.

7. Will Kotoni Staggs and Tom Opacic be Broncos or Dolphins this weekend?
Boom teenager Staggs has not been named in the starting side for either the Brisbane Broncos or Redcliffe Dolphins. Conversely, Opacic was named to start at centre for the Dolphins, and also named in jersey 16 for the Broncos. Redcliffe hosts Wynnum Manly on Sunday at Dolphin Stadium, the day after the Broncos play at Suncorp Stadium. Staggs was the top point-scorer in the Intrust Super Cup before making his NRL debut for the Broncos.

6. What about Justin Olam and Tui Kamikamica for the Sunshine Coast Falcons?
Olam scored for the PNG Kumuls last weekend, but could line up against many of his international teammates this week if released by the Melbourne Storm to play for Sunshine Coast against the PNG Hunter. Kamikamica is in a similar situation, waiting to hear whether he is required to play in the Roosters v Storm clash at Adelaide on Friday night. The game against PNG comes on a Sunday in Port Moresby, leaving plenty of time for a decision, but also making for a long journey.

5. Can we expect to see Patrick Kaufusi and Young Tonumaipe'a for the Easts Tigers?
Intriguingly, Easts has named Melbourne squad members Cheyse Blair and Brodie Croft, despite them being named in the extended reserves for the Storm. However, the Tigers have not nominated Kaufusi or Tonumaipe'a, who are in the exact same position and also dual eligible. Kaufusi played last weekend for the XXXX Queensland Residents in a tough loss to NSW Residents at ANZ Stadium.

4. When can we expect Zach Clay and Carlin Anderson back for Townsville?
The pacesetters have reached top spot without several of their noted attacking weapons, with half Zach Clay out with an ankle injury and Anderson suffering a bad tendon injury on his finger. Former Junior Kiwi and Penrith Panthers Nines player Clay has had a disrupted season, playing just nine games so far for Townsville. Shaun Hudson has been named in the halves alongside Jaelen Feeney to take on the Northern Pride at Atherton. Meanwhile, luckless Anderson was recently listed as likely to return around mid-to-late August.

3. Will Ethan Lowe and Javid Bowen pull on Pride colours again this Saturday?
Neither Lowe nor Bowen has been named by the Pride, but should be available, with the Cowboys placing them in jerseys 19 and 22 respectively. The Pride v Blackhawks match will be a prime opportunity for many of the fringe NRL players to prove where they should sit in the Cowboys' pecking order. Previously 18th man for Queensland's State of Origin side, Lowe has played two games for the Pride this year, including their last-up 22-16 win against Wynnum Manly.

2. Does Atherton get to host another Australian Test player?
The Tablelands town is known as the place where Todd Carney rediscovered his feet before going on to win the Dally M Medal with the Sydney Roosters and secure an Australian jersey. He would have played at his old haunt this weekend had he not left the Pride earlier in the season. However, Atherton may still get to witness another player who has worn the green and gold, with Justin O'Neill eligible to play for the visiting Blackhawks, though as yet is not named in their squad.

1. Will Jamal Fogarty back up for Burleigh in a star-studded Gold Coast derby?
Halfback Fogarty hobbled off in pain after 25 minutes in the match between QLD Residents and NSW Residents and would surely not be at 100 per cent for this enticing encounter. Tweed Heads could well again have access to a host of talented NRL players, including the likes of Bryce Cartwright, Konrad Hurrell, Leilani Latu, Kane Elgey, Ryan Simpkins and Brendan Elliott. The Bears held the lead in the competition until round 15.

Acknowledgement of Country

Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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