Melbourne Storm v Canberra Raiders
Saturday 22 July, 5.30pm
Head-to-Head: Storm 27, Raiders 11
TV: Fox Sports 502
Radio: ABC Grandstand, 2GB
Origin boys back in town
The boys are back! Storm are set to welcome back all six of their Queensland players who took part in last Wednesday’s Origin decider. All six, along with 18th men Dale Finucane (NSW) and Felise Kaufusi (QLD), were given until this Wednesday off in order to ensure they are rested, recovered and ready to go for the business end of the year. Origin newcomers Tim Glasby and Cameron Munster will be full of confidence after thriving on the big stage, which will only hold Storm in good stead for the run home.
Who plays at centre?
With Cheyse Blair ruled out for the remainder of the season with an ankle injury an opportunity has come up in the side. The race for who fills that vacant centre position appears to be between Young Tonumaipea and Curtis Scott. Scott was the front-runner originally, scoring four tries in three games during the Origin period between Rounds 15-17. Tonumaipea then came into the side though against the Eels after Scott was forced to withdraw late through illness. Tonumaipea has been named in the starting side for this week’s trip to Canberra but Scott’s inclusion on the extended bench likely means the two will be going head-to-head at training for that final spot in Craig Bellamy’s team.
Raiders regain winning feeling
Canberra snapped their four game losing streak last Friday night. It came courtesy of a thrilling 18-14 golden point win over the Dragons which leaves them in touch with the top eight, albeit two wins behind. Saturday’s game will once again see the Raiders fighting to keep their season alive. A desperate team is a dangerous one so Melbourne will have to be on their toes.
Sezer the danger
Aiden Sezer showcased his match-winning ability last week. The Raiders halfback intercepted a pass to run 90 metres up field and draw his side level in the second half. He then stepped up in golden point to produce an opportunistic 40-20 kick that eventually led to the decisive try. Sezer and halves partner Blake Austin are one of the NRL’s most dynamic playmaking duos on their day so stopping them will be crucial to seeing Storm walking away with the points.
Papalii to miss
Josh Papalli will be watching from the sidelines on the weekend after he was given a two-week suspension for pleading guilty to a Shoulder Charge last week. The Maroons forward will be a big loss to his side’s forward pack. Papalii has averaged 146 metres per game and his 80-minute output will leave a sizeable hole in the second row.