What you need to know – Round 23
Melbourne Storm v Sydney Roosters
Friday 12 August, 5.30pm
Head-to-Head: Storm 18, Roosters 15
Last time we met: Round 16, 2017 – Melbourne 24 def Sydney Roosters 25 at Adelaide Oval
TV: Fox Sports 502
Radio: 2GB & ABC Grandstand
What is at stake?
Plenty. Storm currently sit four points clear on top of the NRL ladder and a win on Saturday will see them sit three games above second with as many games to go. That would be a commanding position to be in heading into the finals. However in order to do so they will need to negotiate their way through a Roosters side desperate to keep in touch with top spot. Currently in second, a loss would leave Sydney at risk of slipping outside the top four. In such a close season, one game can prove defining and Saturday’s clash at AAMI Park is certainly shaping up that way.
Big guns back
After coming off a loss to Manly, the Roosters have welcomed back two experienced players in timely fashion. Their captain Jake Friend and NSW skipper Boyd Cordner return to the side after lengthy stints on the sidelines. Friend has missed the last three games with a broken hand while Cordner has not played for the tricolours since Round 13 due to Origin commitments and a knee injury. Both players will bring experience and class to the visitors starting side.
Much of the talk leading into this top of the table clash has been around the battle of the two forward packs. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Dylan Napa ooze aggression and power and when you add in the inclusion of Boyd Cordner and 150-gamer Aiden Guerra the challenge certainly stacks up for Jesse Bromwich and co. So far the Storm pack has answered just about every question that has been asked of them this season, there is no reason to think any different this weekend.
Despite some handy inclusions the Roosters will be without their equal leading try scorer Daniel Tupou. He suffered a groin tear against Manly and will miss the next six weeks. Tupou has scored 11 tries in 2017 and also leads the Roosters in metres gained and line breaks. His replacement on the left edge will be 21-year-old Joseph Manu who will make the shift outside from the centres. Manu has played 15 games this year, scoring five tries. He will line up opposite Suliasi Vunivalu so expect the Fijian to put him to the test.