Date: Saturday May 31
Venue: Townsville Stadium
Kick-off: 7:30 pm
Cowboys: Michael Morgan, Matthew Wright, Brent Tate, Kane Linnett, Antonio Winterstein, Johnathan Thurston, Ray Thompson, Matthew Scott, Rory Kostjasyn, James Tamou, Ethan Lowe, Jason Taumalolo, Scott Bolton. Interchange: Robert Lui, Glenn Hall, Ashton Sims, Joel Riethmuller, Anthony Mitchell
Storm: Billy Slater, Sisa Waqa, Will Chambers, Kurt Mann, Young Tonumaipea, Ben Roberts, Cooper Cronk, Jesse Bromwich, Cameron Smith, Bryan Norrie, Kevin Proctor, Ryan Hoffman, Ryan Hinchcliffe. Interchange: Kenneath Bromwich, Tohu Harris, Dayne Weston, George Rose, Mitch Garbutt
In the aftermath of possibly one of the greatest Origin matches since its inception, Melbourne Storm look likely to struggle as the game claimed Cronk, Smith and Slater as its victims while their opponents the Cowboys are at full strength.
Cooper Cronk has fractured his arm, Slater is nursing a shoulder injury and Cameron Smith picked up a knee injury which has all left Craig Bellamy with a headache in terms of team selection. Storm have hit top four form as they recorded wins over Manly and Rabbitohs in their last two games however it will be tough for them to continue that streak without their star names.
North Queensland will be disappointed with their defeat in Canberra last week as they were on the wrong end of a 42-12 score line without their Origin stars. Before that though the Cowboys had won three in a row and will be favourites to pick up the two points and continue their push for the top 8.
Storm will most likely look to Ben Roberts and Tohu Harris in the halves with Ryan Hinchcliffe filling in at nine. Kurt Mann could be Slater’s replacement at the back with Mahe Fonua available to cover in the centres.
North Queensland welcome back Thurston, Scott, Tate and Tamou who all come away from Origin without knocks. Scott Bolton moves to lock to replace the suspended Tariq Sims, Robert Lui is on the interchange and Jason Taumalolo starts instead of Glenn Hall who is benched.
Storm will struggle after the brutal Origin so I’m going for Cowboys by 12.