Christopher Rooney previews the epic finals opener between Melbourne and Manly Warringah. This is what we have to look forward to.Embed from Getty Images
Venue: Sunshine Coast Stadium, Sunshine Coast, Date: 10/09/21 Time: 7:50pm
1. Ryan Papenhuyzen
2. George Jennings
3. Reimis Smith
4. Justin Olam
5. Isaac Lumelume
6. Cameron Munster
7. Jahrome Hughes
8. Jesse Bromwich
9. Brandon Smith
10. Christian Welch
11. Felise Kaufusi
12. Kenneath Bromwich
13. Dale Finucane
14. Harry Grant
15. Tui Kamikamica
16. Nelson Asofa-Solomona
17. Nicho Hynes
18. Aaron Pene
19. Tom Eisenhuth
20. Chris Lewis
21. Marion Seve
IN: Cameron Munster, Christian Welch, Felise Kaufusi, George Jennings, Jesse Bromwich, Kenneath Bromwich, Reimis Smith, Tom Eisenhuth
OUT: Daniel Atkinson, Dean Ieremia, Jordan Grant, Tepai Moeroa, Trent Loiero
Sea Eagles Team
1. Tom Trbojevic
2. Jason Saab
3. Brad Parker
4. Morgan Harper
5. Reuben Garrick
6. Kieran Foran
7. Daly Cherry-Evans
8. Josh Aloiai
9. Lachlan Croker
10. Martin Taupau
11. Haumole Olakau’atu
12. Josh Shuster
13. Jake Trbojevic
14. Dylan Walker
15. Karl Lawton
16. Sean Keppie
17. Taniela Paseka
18. Toafofoa Sipley
19. Moses Suli
20. Curtis Sironen
21. Tevita Funa
IN: Curtis Sironen, Josh Aloiai, Tevita Funa
Referee: Grant Atkins
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
StormEmbed from Getty Images
The Storm welcome a host of players back for the first week of the finals including Cameron Munster, Christian Welch, Felise Kaufusi, George Jennings, Jesse Bromwich, Kenneath Bromwich, and Reimis Smith.
The Storm will be sweating on Munster to pass a fitness test on Thursday to be cleared to play Friday night.
Josh Addo-Carr still remains out with an injury as Isaac Lumelume retains his spot on the wing.
The Storm defeated the Sharks last week, 28-16, to once again finish first and be crowned minor premiers.
Sea EaglesEmbed from Getty Images
The Sea Eagles did not rest any of their regular starters last week as they destroyed the Cowboys (46-18) with ease in the second half.
Josh Aloiai returns after being in-and-out of the side this year, but don’t be surprised if Des Hasler moves him back to bench or Taupau.
The Sea Eagles will carry a lot of momentum heading into Friday’s match and will no doubt look to make a statement against the Storm and the rest of the competition.
Let’s look at the two sides: no one expected the Storm to win the minor premiership and dominate the competition after the retirement of Cameron Smith.
Yet, that is exactly what they did, breaking a number of records in points scored, point differential, and equalling the 1975 Eastern Suburb Roosters with the most consecutive wins.
Now the Sea Eagles: their first four games were beyond awful. In fact, there was a lot of noise for Hasler to be sacked and imagine if they’d never won their match against the Warriors in round five?
Who knows where they would be, but I can imagine all Sea Eagles fans are grateful they have a player like Tom Trbojevic right now. His return and dominance has made them a genuine contender for the premiership.
Both sides have plenty of history against each other in finals matches and this should be the best of the lot. The two sides only faced each other once this year and the Storm were able to win by dominating possession and forcing the Sea Eagles to create a number of errors.
Both sides have faced each other 39 times, with the Storm winning 23 matches. The previous two meetings have seen the Storm winning both matches but the two sides have a history of playing in tight contests.
What a start to the finals and it can go either way. Either the Storm suffocate Tom in both attack and defence, limit his opportunities, and make the Sea Eagles commit a number of errors again: then the Storm should go a long way to win this match.
However, there is also the factor that the Storm may not be able to stop Tom, depending what mood he is in, and we can imagine he will play the game of his life.
The Storm did a good job last time stopping him but no doubt the Sea Eagles will target the Storm’s right edge.
Still, I expect a close contest and just that little bit of class from the Storm to get over with the win, but it will not be easy.
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