Round 18 - New Zealand Warriors v Melbourne Storm
Sunday 12 July, 2pm
Mt Smart Stadium

TV: Fox Sports 1, Channel 501, LIVE from 2pm
Online: NRL Digital Pass
Radio: ABC Grandstand, 2GB


Fresh off last week’s bye, a rejuvenated Melbourne Storm will look to close the gap on the top three with a strong showing against the New Zealand Warriors at Mt Smart Stadium.

The seventh-placed Warriors, who are in the midst of a three match unbeaten streak, are tied on 20 points with the fifth-placed Storm, which gives both sides an added incentive to secure a win in Auckland.

Storm will welcome back star halfback Cooper Cronk, who has been named to back up following Wednesday night’s Origin decider after making his return for the Maroons in his first match following a low grade meniscus tear in his right knee suffered in Round 13.

See Friday night football at AAMI Park when Storm host Penrith on July 17. Book tickets.

Cronk’s inclusion means that Ben Hampton will shift to the interchange bench, while Jordan McClean is out of the 17-man squad through injury. Will Chambers and Cameron Smith have also been named to back up after playing key roles in Queensland’s series deciding victory at Suncorp Stadium.

For the hosts, centre Konrad Hurrell has been named in the match day squad despite nursing a shoulder injury, while 18th man David Fusitua’a has been listed as a cover. Former Storm forward and current Warrior Ryan Hoffman suffered a calf injury for the Blues on Wednesday night and is also in doubt.

TEAMS:

New Zealand Warriors

1. Sam Tomkins 2. Tuimoala Lolohea 3. Konrad Hurrell 4. Solomone Kata 5. Manu Vatuvei 6. Chad Townsend 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Jacob Lillyman 9. Nathan Friend 10. Ben Matulino 11. Bodene Thompson 12. Ryan Hoffman 13. Simon Mannering (c) 14. Siliva Havili 15. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 16. Charlie Gubb 17. Albert Vete 18. David Fusitua

Melbourne Storm

1. Cameron Munster, 2. Marika Koroibete, 3. Will Chambers, 4. Hymel Hunt 5. Richard Kenner, 6. Blake Green, 7. Cooper Cronk, 8. Jesse Bromwich, 9. Cameron Smith (c), 10. Tim Glasby, 11. Kevin Proctor, 12. Tohu Harris, 13. Dale Finucane, 14. Ryan Hinchcliffe, 15. Kenny Bromwich, 16. Ben Hampton, 17. Felise Kaufusi

MATCH OFFICIALS:

Referees – Gerard Sutton, Chris James

Sideline Officials – Nick Beashel, Anthony Eliott

Video Referees – Bernard Sutton, Luke Patten

HEAD TO HEAD:

Overall
Played: 36
Melbourne: 17
New Zealand: 15
Drawn: 4

In New Zealand:
Played: 16
Melbourne: 8
New Zealand: 8

LAST TIME THEY MET:

Round 5, 2015

Melbourne Storm 30
Tries: Marika Koroibete, Will Chambers, Mahe Fonua, Tim Glasby
Goals: Cameron Smith 5

Defeated

New Zealand Warriors 14
Tries: Nathan Friend, Sebastine Ikahihifo, Manu Vatuvei
Goals: Shaun Johnson

at AAMI Park.

The views expressed in this article are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Melbourne Storm Rugby League Club.