One of the great modern rivalries, there is usually drama when the Sea Eagles and Storm clash.
That was certainly the case in their first meeting last season when Manly won a golden point thriller 11-10 to announce their premiership claims.
Melbourne recorded a big win in the rematch, but Sea Eagles winger Jorge Taufua produced the main highlight by demolishing Cameron Munster with a trademark hit.
Reigning minor premiers the Storm are looking to continue their dominance despite losing some backline power, while Manly are expected to be among the top teams in 2020.
Match: Sea Eagles v Storm
Round 1 -
Venue: Lottoland, Sydney
Sea Eagles: Manly will start the match 1-17 after Tofoafoa Sipley and Brendan Elliot were the last two players dropped from the squad. Jake Trbojevic and Addin Fonua-Blake will play despite off-season shoulder surgeries. Tom Trbojevic will return from the pec injury which cut short his 2019 season. Tevita Funa and Zac Saddler dropping off the extended bench on Saturday.
Storm: Nelson Asofa-Solomona will play for the Storm after overcoming hamstring complaints. He will start from the bench, with Harry Grant joining Brenko Lee as the two players to be left out 60 minutes before kick-off. Tui Kamikamica will start in the front row. Ryley Jacks and Darryn Shconig were cut from the reserves list 24 hours before kick-off.
Fullback for Sea Eagles is number 1 Tom TrbojevicFullback for Storm is number 1 Ryan Papenhuyzen
Winger for Sea Eagles is number 2 Jorge TaufuaWinger for Storm is number 2 Suliasi Vunivalu
Centre for Sea Eagles is number 3 Brad ParkerCentre for Storm is number 3 Marion Seve
Centre for Sea Eagles is number 4 Moses SuliCentre for Storm is number 4 Justin Olam
Winger for Sea Eagles is number 5 Reuben GarrickWinger for Storm is number 5 Josh Addo-Carr
Five-Eighth for Sea Eagles is number 6 Dylan WalkerFive-Eighth for Storm is number 6 Cameron Munster
Halfback for Sea Eagles is number 7 Daly Cherry-EvansHalfback for Storm is number 7 Jahrome Hughes
Prop for Sea Eagles is number 8 Addin Fonua-BlakeProp for Storm is number 8 Jesse Bromwich
Hooker for Sea Eagles is number 9 Danny LeviHooker for Storm is number 9 Cameron Smith
Prop for Sea Eagles is number 10 Martin TaupauProp for Storm is number 10 Tui Kamikamica
2nd Row for Sea Eagles is number 11 Joel Thompson2nd Row for Storm is number 11 Felise Kaufusi
2nd Row for Sea Eagles is number 12 Curtis Sironen2nd Row for Storm is number 12 Kenneath Bromwich
Lock for Sea Eagles is number 13 Jake TrbojevicLock for Storm is number 13 Dale Finucane
Interchange for Sea Eagles is number 14 Lachlan CrokerInterchange for Storm is number 15 Tino Faasuamaleaui
Interchange for Sea Eagles is number 15 Sean KeppieInterchange for Storm is number 16 Max King
Interchange for Sea Eagles is number 16 Morgan BoyleInterchange for Storm is number 17 Tom Eisenhuth
Interchange for Sea Eagles is number 17 Haumole Olakau'atuInterchange for Storm is number 18 Nelson Asofa-Solomona
Tom Trbojevic v Ryan Papenhuyzen. The fullbacks hold the key to their team’s attack at Lottoland. Trbojevic is on the comeback trail from injury while Papenhuyzen is coming off a breakout year at the back for the Storm and will be targeted a lot more by opposition sides in 2020.
For the Sea Eagles to win
Manly's selective offloading ability was a point of difference in their attack last year. Second-phase play could be what's needed to open up the notoriously tight Storm defence.
For the Storm to win
As always, the two Camerons – Smith and Munster – are integral to Melbourne's hopes. Their impact – or lack of – might be what decides the result.
Brett Kimmorley says
Manly are no longer flying under the radar after a wonderful 2019. The home ground advantage is big and I think they'll cause an upset thanks to a Des Hasler coaching masterclass. It's interesting how the Storm keep having to develop players and they lost a few again this year. They couldn't settle on a halfback last season, so I look forward to seeing who plays where for Melbourne and what style they employ in the opening weeks. Sea Eagles by 2.
Daly Cherry-Evans was the NRL's top 40/20 kicker in 2019, finishing with five. The Storm were the leading team for kick return metres (5,876) and supports (3,631).
And another thing ...
There have been a series of closely-fought battles between these teams but Manly's 40-0 win over Melbourne back in 2008 broke the record for the biggest winning margin in a grand final. The rivalry between the teams is so big there is a Wikipedia page dedicated to it (and a separate one for the "Battle of Brookvale").