Craig Bellamy has nothing to prove as a coach, but if he can keep the Storm among the main contenders this season it will rank among the most impressive feats of his career.

After having to stomach losing Cooper Cronk to the Roosters the previous season, Bellamy has to find a replacement for Billy Slater, which is basically impossible given Slater's standing as the greatest fullback of all time.

Of course, Bellamy still has the G.O.A.T in 35-year-old hooker Cameron Smith, so expect the Storm to play their usual high standard of football with a strong emphasis on defence.

A first-up meeting with the Broncos will provide a good indication of where the Storm are at post-Slater.

Brisbane underwent a well-publicised coaching change in the off-season and the players are said to be loving life under 2018 Dally M Coach of the Year Anthony Seibold.

The former Souths coach knows a win over the Storm in enemy territory would provide a solid springboard for a successful season.

Match: Storm v Broncos

Round 1 -

Full Time
Storm

Home Team

Storm

Scored 22 points
Broncos

Away Team

Broncos

Scored 12 points

Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne

Match broadcasters:

  • Nine Network
  • Foxtel
  • LIVE PASS

The Rundown

Team news

Storm: Jahrome Hughes takes Billy Slater's old No.1 jersey with Scott Drinkwater sidelined through injury, while Kenny Bromwich starts in place of the injured Joe Stimson (back). Thomas Eisenhuth came onto the interchange bench when sides were finalised an hour before kick off and Patrick Kaufusi dropped out. It is seven years since 26-year-old Eisenhuth played his lone NRL game for Penrith. Billy Walters and Marion Seve had been removed from the extended bench 24 hours before kick-off.

Broncos: The Broncos are 1-17 for their season opener with Matt Gillett returning from his neck injury at lock and Jack Bird also back from injury in the centres. Alex Glenn and Jaydn Su'A start in the second row, with David Fifita on the bench alongside rookie Tom Flegler and Tevita Pangai jnr. Patrick Carrigan and Gehamat Shibasaki dropped off the extended bench on Wednesday.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Storm is number 1 Jahrome Hughes
    Fullback for Broncos is number 1 Darius Boyd
  • Winger for Storm is number 2 Suliasi Vunivalu
    Winger for Broncos is number 2 Corey Oates
  • Centre for Storm is number 3 Will Chambers
    Centre for Broncos is number 3 James Roberts
  • Centre for Storm is number 4 Curtis Scott
    Centre for Broncos is number 4 Jack Bird
  • Winger for Storm is number 5 Josh Addo-Carr
    Winger for Broncos is number 5 Jamayne Isaako
  • Five-Eighth for Storm is number 6 Cameron Munster
    Five-Eighth for Broncos is number 6 Anthony Milford
  • Halfback for Storm is number 7 Brodie Croft
    Halfback for Broncos is number 7 Kodi Nikorima

Forwards

  • Prop for Storm is number 8 Jesse Bromwich
    Prop for Broncos is number 8 Matthew Lodge
  • Hooker for Storm is number 9 Cameron Smith
    Hooker for Broncos is number 9 Andrew McCullough
  • Prop for Storm is number 10 Nelson Asofa-Solomona
    Prop for Broncos is number 10 Joe Ofahengaue
  • 2nd Row for Storm is number 11 Felise Kaufusi
    2nd Row for Broncos is number 11 Alex Glenn
  • 2nd Row for Storm is number 12 Kenneath Bromwich
    2nd Row for Broncos is number 12 Jaydn Su'A
  • Lock for Storm is number 13 Dale Finucane
    Lock for Broncos is number 13 Matt Gillett

Interchange

  • Interchange for Storm is number 14 Brandon Smith
    Interchange for Broncos is number 14 Kotoni Staggs
  • Interchange for Storm is number 15 Christian Welch
    Interchange for Broncos is number 15 David Fifita
  • Interchange for Storm is number 16 Tui Kamikamica
    Interchange for Broncos is number 16 Thomas Flegler
  • Interchange for Storm is number 19 Tom Eisenhuth
    Interchange for Broncos is number 17 Tevita Pangai Junior

Key match-up

All this talk about Melbourne finally disappearing from the top eight landscape must have Cameron Munster keen to prove people wrong. Munster's battle with Brisbane five-eighth Anthony Milford could prove decisive.

Match: Storm v Broncos

Round 1 -

Full Time
Storm

Home Team

Storm

Scored 22 points
Broncos

Away Team

Broncos

Scored 12 points

Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne

Match broadcasters:

  • Nine Network
  • Foxtel
  • LIVE PASS

For the Storm to win

The Storm haven't changed the basic game plan too much over the past 10 years years and if it ain't broke don't fix it. Still, the loss of Slater is significant and there's a lot of responsibility on the young shoulders of Jahrome Hughes.

For the Broncos to win

Brisbane have to match Melbourne in the forwards and experienced back-rowers Matt Gillett and Alex Glenn must provide steady leadership and guidance for the likes of Matt Lodge, Joe Ofahengaue and Tevita Pangai jnr.

And another thing

After a horrible 2018 in which he appeared in just eight games due to injury, Broncos centre Jack Bird knows he has to have a big year to prove he is still one of the game's elite players. With dynamic Brisbane centre Kotoni Staggs snapping at his heels, Bird is under pressure to perform week in week out.

Brett Kimmorley says  ...

 This is the first year for the Storm without Billy Slater. I'm very interested to see how they line up and what sort of role Cameron Munster plays. Can the Storm play the same style they've played for the last 10 years? As for Brisbane, I loved watching Anthony Seibold's style of football last year at the Rabbitohs. It is an amazing time for him to arrive at Brisbane. Wayne Bennett himself said this was the best group of young players he'd had and now Seibold gets them.
Brisbane by 10

Storm Stat Attack

Brodie Croft had to share the halfback role with Ryley Jacks last season as Bellamy tried to settle on Cronk's successor. Croft should have a lock on the No.7 jersey all season after Jacks joined the Gold Coast. Last year Croft played in 12 games, scoring three tries and handing out two try assists.

Broncos Stat Attack

Veteran fullback Darius Boyd was typically durable last year, appearing in all 24 regular season games and their lone finals match against the Dragons. The 31-year-old scored five tries and served up 10 try assists, making six line breaks and 75 tackle breaks. He made 207 tackles and missed 35.

Head to head in the NRL era (since 1998)

  • Played: 45; Storm 31 wins, Broncos 13 wins, 1 draw
  • Latest result: Storm won 32-16 in round 14, 2018
  • At this venue: Storm 75% wins, Broncos 30% wins