The departure of World Cup teams for Japan has led to an influx of players into NRC teams for round three of competition on Saturday and Sunday.
The Wallabies' test against Samoa and Randwick's clash against Argentina led to a player drain last week but most have returned to their NRC sides this weekend, while other Super Rugby players have filtered into teams for the first time this NRC season.
The action starts with Sydney hosting Queensland Country at Woollahra Oval in the first of three consecutive games on Saturday afternoon and looking for their first win of the season after a loss to Brisbane City last week.
Catch all four games LIVE on RUGBY.com.au, as well as Kayo, with the Sydney-Queensland Country game also LIVE on Fox Sports.
Canberra Vikings host Brisbane at Viking Park from 2pm hoping to get one over City after losing to Queensland Country on their visit to the Gold Coast in round two.
NSW Country Eagles round out Saturday's matches, taking on the Fijian Drua in Wollongong from 4pm.
The Eagles are unbeaten after two rounds, while the Drua are yet to win a match in their premiership defence.
The final match of the round will be played in Perth on Sunday, with the Western Force hosting Melbourne Rising at 5pm (AEST).
The unbeaten Force sit at the top of the NRC ladder after two rounds, while the Rising are yet to win a match despite some positive patches of play.
All times AEST
Saturday, September 14
12pm - Sydney vs Queensland Country, Woollahra Oval, Sydney, LIVE on RUGBY.com.au, Fox Sports and Kayo.
2pm - Canberra Vikings vs Brisbane City, Viking Park, Canberra, LIVE on RUGBY.com.au and Kayo.
4pm - NSW Country Eagles vs Fijian Drua, WIN Stadium, Wollongong, LIVE on RUGBY.com.au and Kayo.
Sunday, September 15
5pm - Western Force vs Melbourne Rising, UWA Sports Park, LIVE on RUGBY.com.au and Kayo.
SYDNEY VS QUEENSLAND COUNTRY
Sydney has been bolstered by the return of several Randwick players who were released last week to play in the club's historic pre-Rugby World Cup clash against Argentina, missing their side's clash against Brisbane City on the Gold Coast.
Will Harrison, Mitch Short, Christian Poidevin and James Ramm, have returned to Sydney's squad for their clash against Queensland Country, who bounced back from a 50-49 loss to the Western Force in the opening week to post their first win of the competition.
Sydney lost last week after an opening arm wrestle, leaving them with an 0-2 record, although captain Lachlan Swinton is adamant that will be no impediment going forward.
"You never write off the season at all, there's always hope and there's positives to take out of that," he said after the loss to Brisbane.
"We've got such a good bunch of guys and I have faith and back them. We've just got to keep building and take all the positives we can out of that."
Despite their loss, Sydney controlled the breakdown well and scored several times when they managed to control possession inside opposition territory.
"That's one of the positives we took out and we're going to build on that. But we've got to identify when (the other team has) a hard on-ball and we've got to really tighten up out cleanout, so that's a big focus point for us (against Country)."
They won't have an easy task though, with Country adding Reds players Chris Feauai-Sautia and Alex Mafi to their squad to head over the border.
"The strength of our squad this year is our depth," Country coach Rod Seib said.
"we are fortunate to have a wealth of talent within the Country ranks and throughout the NRC we will look to give players opportunities."
Sydney to face Queensland Country
1. Rory O'Connor, 2. Ed Craig, 3. Charles Abel, 4. Ryan McCauley, 5. Tu'itakau Kioa, 6. Lachlan Swinton, 7. Charlie Gamble, 8. Joshua Kemeny, 9. Jacob Abel, 10. Will Harrison, 11. James Ramm, 12. Harry Burey, 13. Lalakai Foketi, 14. Cameron Clark, 15. Jaline Graham. Reserves: 16. Declan Moore, 17. Tom Osborne, 18. Wayne Borsak, 19. Jack Digby, 20. Jordan Goddard, 21. Christian Poidevin, 22. Mitch Short, 23. Tyson Davis.
Queensland Country to face Sydney
1. George Francis, 2. Matt Faessler, 3. Gavin Luka, 4. Angus Blyth, 5. Harry Hockings, 6. Jeremiah Lynch, 7. Angus Scott-Young, 8. Harry Wilson, 9. Tate McDermott, 10. Rohan Saifoloi, 11. Joey Fittock, 12. Hamish Stewart, 13. Chris Feauai-Sautia, 14. Filipo Daugunu, 15. Jock Campbell. Reserves: 16. Alex Mafi, 17. Carter Ozanne, 18. Bronson Fotualii, 19. Dillon Wihongi, 20. Connor Pritchard, 21. Liam Dillon, 22. Daniel Boardman, 23. Tom Lucas.
CANBERRA VIKINGS VS BRISBANE CITY
Rob Valetini will return to Canberra's line-up after making his Test debut in the Wallabies' win against Samoa last week.
Valetini missed the Vikings' loss to Queensland Country on the Gold Coast last week, a match the Brisbane City players were able to analyse after playing the first leg of the double-header at Bond University last week.
The back-rower is one of three changes to the starting side for the Vikings, with prop Tom Ross and flanker Luke Gersekowski also recalled to the starting side for the clash against City.
Two further changes have been made to the bench, with Wallabies squad member Joe Powell to make his NRC debut this season off the pine, while flying winger George Morseu will provide cover for the back three.
Morseu's addition provides another dimension, giving the match a sibling rivalry with younger brother Moses Sorovi to line up at halfback for City as the two oppose each other for the first time in a formal setting.
Canberra to face Brisbane
1. Fred Kaihea, 2. Lachlan Lonergan, 3. Tom Ross, 4. Blake Enever, 5. Darcy Swain, 6. Pete Samu, 7. Luke Gersekowski, 8. Rob Valetini, 9. Ryan Lonergan, 10. Noah Lolesio, 11. Mack Hansen, 12. Irae Simone, 13. Tom Wright, 14. Toni Pulu, 15. Andy Muirhead. Reserves: 16. TP Luteru, 17. Bo Abra, 18. Jake Simeon, 19. Nick Frost, 20. Angus allen, 21. Joe Powell, 22. Bayley Kuenzle, 23. George Morseu.
Brisbane to face Canberra
1. Ruan Smith, 2. Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 3. Josh NAsser, 4. Brad Kapa, 5. Adam Korczyk, 6. Michael Wood, 7. Fraser McReight, 8. Sam Wallis, 9. Moses Sorovi, 10. Isaac Lucas, 11. Jordan Luke, 12. Teti Tela, 13. Hunter Paisami, 14. Ashton Watson, 15. Lawson Creighton. Reserves: 16. Sean Farrell, 17. Dane Zander, 18. Rhys van Nek, 19. Tuaina Tualima, 20. Seru Uru, 21. Connor Anderson, 22. Nick Chapman, 23. Isaac Henry.
NSW COUNTRY VS FIJIAN DRUA
Wallabies prop Harry Johnson-Holmes will run out for Country in Wollongong as the Eagles attempt to maintain their unbeaten record against the defending NRC champions.
Johnson-Holmes, who trained with the Wallabies in Noumea ahead of their World Cup departure, said he had a new lease on life after his recent stint with the national team.
"I'm pretty excited to be part of it now, there's obviously been two weeks already, so we'll start to nut out the specifics of how they want to play but for the most part, it looks like they've worked out how they want to be taking on the 2019 NRC season," Johnson-Holmes said.
The addition of Johnson-Holmes will bolster an already strong pack that includes fellow capped Wallaby Ned Hanigan, while Jake Gordon will again line up at no.9.
Johnson-Holmes' addition is likely to be little comfort to the Drua, who are yet to post a win this season after a draw with Brisbane City in the opening round, followed by a rare home loss to the Western Force last week.
The Eagles have taken the match to Wollongong, with the game to be played at WIN Stadium, with a strong crowd expected.
NSW Country to face Drua
1. Harry Johnson-Holmes, 2. Tom Horton, 3. Chris Talakai, 4. Pat Tafa, 5. Tom Staniforth, 6. Ned Hanigan, 7. Michael Icely, 8. Nick Champion de Crespigny, 9. Jake Gordon, 10. Mack Mason, 11. James Kane, 12. Ofa Manuofetoa, 13. Nigel Ah Wong, 14. Mark Nawaqanitawase, 15. Tim Clements. Reserves: 16. David Vea, 17. Archer Hall, 18. Matthew Sandell, 19. Nathan Den Hoedt, 20. Will Harris, 21. Jack Grant, 22. Connor O'Shea, 23. Joey Walton.
Drua to face NSW Country
1. Joeli Veitayaki, 2. Tevita Ikanivere, 3 Mosese Ducivaki, 4 Tevita Naqali, 5. Tevita Naqali, 6. Eremasi Radrodro, 7. Rusiate Nasova, 8. Johnny Dyer, 9. Peni Matawalu, 10. Caleb Muntz, 11. Nacanieli Narequva,, 12. 12 Cyril Reece, 13 Poasa Waqanibau, 14. Aporosa Tabulawaki, 15. TBC. Reserves: 16. Ratunaisa Navuma, 17. Timoci Sauvoli, 18. Jone Koroiduadua, 19. Necani Nawaqadau, 20. Jone Navori, 21. Seru Vularika, 22. Peceli Nacebe, 23. Jiuta Wainiqolo.
WESTERN FORCE VS MELBOURNE RISING
The Force will be bolstered by the inclusion of skipper Ian Prior in the starting side, the halfback returning to the first XV after a pectoral injury suffered during the Rapid Rugby season that kept him sidelined for 12 weeks.
Prior's inclusion is one of five changes the Force have made to the team that beat the Drua in Fiji last week.
Chris Alcock, Leon Feke, Kiti Ratu, Andrew Ready and Jeremy Thrush have all forced this way into the squad.
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT | Captain Ian Prior will lead your team in the number nine jersey on Sunday 👊 Read more 🔗☝️ in stories. Who's up for some rugby on Sunday? Force vs Rising 📍 UWA Sports Park - McGillivray Oval ⏰ Kick-off at 3pm AWST, activities starts at 2pm. 📆 Sunday, Sept 15. #BeTheForce #WesternForce
Prior has played off the bench since making the first steps in his return last month, with coach Tim Sampson praising his leader's team-first mentality.
"Being fully fit and ready to go was Ian's first challenge, then he's had to wait as Issak (Fines) continued to do a super job in stepping up and filling the big shoes that Ian left," Sampson said.
"We're very fortunate to have two fit and accomplished players challenging for that starting nine jersey.
"(Prior's) game sense is excellent, he can read and manage a match really well and we'll be looking for that from the kick-off against Melbourne."
Sampson said he had had selection headaches with so many form players putting their hands up and expects a tough test from the Rising despite their 0-2 record.
"Melbourne has an impressive pack, a lot of Super Rugby experience in there ... and I think the best is yet to come from them," he said.
Force to face Rising
1. Cameron Orr, 2. Heath Tessman, 3. Chris Heiberg, 4. Fergus Lee-Warner. 5. Johan Bardoul, 6. Henry Stowers, 7. Chris Alcock, 8. Brynard Stander, 9. Ian Prior (c), 10. Andrew Deegan, 11. Byron Ralston, 12. Chris Tuatara-Morrison, 13. Nick Jooste, 14. Leon Feke, 15. Jonah Placid. Reserves: 16. Andrew Ready 17. Harrison Lloyd, 18. Dominic Hardman, 19. Jeremy Thrush, 20. Tevin Ferris, 21. Issak Fines, 22. Jake Strachan, 23. Kitione Ratu.
Rising to face Force
1. Matt Gibbon, 2. Anaru Rangi, 3. Vaauli Faamausili, 4. Ross Haylett-Petty, 5. Esei Haangana, 6. Ikapote Tupai, 7. Richard Hardwick, 8. Rob Leota, 9. Theo Strang, 10. Rodney Iona, 11. Lolohea Loco, 12. James Sooialo, 13. Semisi Tupou, 14. Nailati Ukalele, 15. Justin Marsters. Reserves: 16. Moli Sooaemalelagi, 17. Fereti Sa'aga, 18.Tetera Faulkner, 19. William Clift, 20. Maciu Nabolakasi, 21. Pat Morrey, 22. Reece Fuller, 23. William Lewesi.