Sydney Roosters star Todd Carney is out of Friday’s NRL season opener against South Sydney at the Sydney Football Stadium. Carney, who has endured a torrid lead-up to the start of the new campaign, following his arrest for drink-driving 10 days ago, has not been named in the Roosters side after failing to recover from January groin surgery. The Dally M Medallist sustained the injury playing for Australia in the Four Nations clash with New Zealand in Auckland in October. Coach Brian Smith named Braith Anasta at five-eighth alongside Mitchell Pearce with Carney expected to be back for the round two clash with Manly. However, the Roosters are boosted by the surprise return of secondrower Mitch Aubusson who had been expected to be sidelined until round four with a shoulder injury. Souths coach John Lang said he had been preparing for Carney to play and believed the troubled playmaker’s off-field problems would have no effect on his game. “He had a great season last year and I see no reason why he won’t pick up where he left off last year,” Lang said. “Often for players, the game and training, if there’s been a few problems that can be a bit of a relief for them rather than another pressure.”

Manly fullback Brett Stewart will play for the first time since round one of last season.Stewart had 20 minutes in the Sea Eagles’ last trial match against the Warriors in Auckland a fortnight ago, in what was his first taste of action since round one against the Wests Tigers last year, where he sustained a season-ending knee injury. However, David Williams, who also missed all of 2010 due to shoulder surgery is likely to miss out due to a hamstring strain when the team is named on Tuesday.

New Brisbane coach Anthony Griffin will include two debutants in his backline against North Queensland on Friday with centre Justin Hodges struggling with a hamstring problem. Jack Reed, 20, is set replace Hodges, who sat out last season with an Achilles injury, with exciting winger Dane Gagai, also 20, likely to start against the Cowboys.

Canberra coach David Furner may be forced to turn to a rookie halfback for the Raiders’ NRL season opener against Cronulla on Sunday. The Green Machine’s big off-season signing Matt Orford is almost certain to miss the Canberra Stadium clash as he battles a groin problem. The 2009 Dally M Medallist is yet to take the field for the Raiders and Furner is set to name either Ben Picker or Sam Williams, who are both 19, in the No.7 shirt. Another Canberra recruit, Blake Ferguson, will make his debut against his former club having recovered from a broken finger.

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