Ethan Lowe, who was caught up in the NRL’s betting scandal earlier this year, is back for North Queensland for their clash with the Sydney Roosters.
North Queensland young gun Ethan Lowe has the chance to atone for a season marred by his implication in the NRL betting scandal, after being called up as Tariq Sims’ replacement for Friday night’s elimination final against the Sydney Roosters.
Lowe has been selected on the Cowboys bench, with former Manly premiership winner Glenn Hall promoted to the starting second row.
Sims and the Cowboys reluctantly copped a five-week suspension for a reckless shoulder charge on Brisbane’s Justin Hodges last week, and the Newcastle-bound forward has played his last game for the club.
It presents a major opportunity for 23-year-old Lowe who was suspended for two matches by the NRL back in July for placing two small bets worth $10 and $20 on league matches at the start of the 2013 season.
Lowe has claimed he had no knowledge of ever placing the bets on a weekend when he was not playing first grade, but the NRL stood firm with his punishment because the account was bearing his name.
The Cowboys released a statement at the time saying: “No winnings were collected and the account concerned was closed after proper identification was not provided to confirm the identity of the account owner.”
Lowe has only played 10 matches this year and last ran out for the high-flying Cowboys in round 23, however he has been tipped for a bright future in the game after being recognised for junior representative honours coming through the grades.
Meanwhile, the Roosters have received a major boost with hooker Jake Friend back from a potentially life-threatening chest condition to be named in the No.9 for Friday.
In the other sudden-death final to be played on Saturday night also at Allianz Stadium, Manly have promoted Brisbane recruit Dunamis Lui to the starting side to replace the suspended Anthony Watmough for their clash with Canterbury.
The injury-depleted Sea Eagles are finally hoping for some good news, with representative hooker Matt Ballin pushing hard for an early return from a fractured leg.
Ballin hasn’t been named, but he’s expected to come into contention later in the week if he continues to make inroads at training.
If he doesn’t pull through, Manly at least have their back-up Jayden Hodges on deck, after he sent shockwaves through the camp when he was taken to hospital with a neck injury during last week’s loss to Souths.
Canterbury’s only change is injury-forced, with veteran Reni Maitua named on the bench in place of youngster Pat O’Hanlon who broke his leg in Sunday’s win over Melbourne.
Referees Shayne Hayne and Gavin Badger will take charge of the Roosters and Cowboys clash, and Gerard Sutton and Ben Cummins have the whistles for the Manly and Canterbury showdown – with Jared Maxwell missing out after a controversial performance in week one.