Date: Friday 25th April
Venue: AAMI Park
Kick-off: 6pm (Melbourne)
1 Billy Slater 2 Sisa Waqa 3 Mahe Fonua 4 Justin O’Neill 5 Young Tonumaipea 6 Ben Hampton 7 Cooper Cronk 8 Jesse Bromwich 9 Cameron Smith (c) 10 Bryan Norrie 11 Kevin Proctor 12 Ryan Hoffman 13 Ryan Hinchcliffe Interchange 14 Kenny Bromwich 15 Tohu Harris 16 Mitch Garbutt 17 George Rose 18 Dayne Weston 19 Tim Glasby
1 Sam Tomkins 2 David Fusitua 3 Dane Nielsen 4 Ngani Laumape 5 Manu Vatuvei 6 Chad Townsend 7 Shaun Johnson 8 Sam Rapira 9 Nathan Friend 10 Jacob Lillyman 11 Jayson Bukuya 12 Simon Mannering (c) 13 Sebastine Ikahihifo Interchange 14 Ben Henry 15 Suaia Matagi 16 Siliva Havili 17 Feleti Mateo
Melbourne Storm uncharacteristically sit outside the eight after seven rounds and will be desperate for victory against New Zealand Warriors in the traditional ANZAC Day clash at AAMI Park.
This will be the fifth time these two teams have met on April 25 with Melbourne winning three of the four games previously played. A surprise loss in Canberra continues a rocky start to the season with their defensive record second worse in the National Rugby League (175 points conceded). Only slightly ahead of their opponents who have conceded 179 points in the opening seven weeks. New Zealand Warriors are in free-fall after three straight losses. They were outclassed by a Josh Dugan inspired Dragons side at Kogarah.
Melbourne have lost Ben Roberts to a knee injury. This will give Ben Hampton another chance to play at six alongside Cooper Cronk. Mitch Garbutt has been named in the nineteen man squad. New Zealand Warriors have also been forced to make a change at five-eighth with Thomas Leuluai injured groin giving ex-Cronulla half Chad Townsend a chance with his new club. Feliti Mateo will start from the bench.
There’s no doubt both of these teams will play with plenty of passion and entertainment. Melbourne at home are tough to beat and I expect they’ll be too good for a Warriors side who are in the middle of a form slump under new coach Andrew McFadden.