The battle of 13th v 17th looms as one of the most intriguing in Round 4 as the Storm look to bounce back after two shock losses and Wests Tigers chase their first victory.
After a gutsy golden point victory on the opening night of the season, few could have predicted the Storm would stumble against the Bulldogs and Titans, conceding 64 points across the two games and lacking the defensive steel that has been their trademark.
The absence of superstar five-eighth Cameron Munster with a finger injury has clearly been a factor but coach Craig Bellamy has built his phenomenal success around a 'next man up' culture and won't be using the absence of the mercurial No.6 as an excuse.
The Tigers, meanwhile, entered the 2023 season full of hope after an impressive recruitment drive but losses to the Titans, Knights and Bulldogs have seen that optimism evaporate ahead of a tough fortnight against the Storm and Broncos.
There were some encouraging signs in the Belmore Sports Ground furnace on Sunday as three long-range tries in the space of four minutes gave them a chance to run down the Bulldogs but in the end they came up short, leaving them 0-3 after three rounds just as they were in 2022.
Match: Storm v Wests Tigers
Round 4 -
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Storm: Halfback Jahrome Hughes has been rubbed out for two matches after he was unsuccessful in having a Dangerous Contact charge downgraded at the NRL Judiciary on Tuesday night. In his place Jonah Pezet comes into the halves alongside Cameron Munster, who returns after missing two games with a finger injury in a huge boost for the Storm. There were no further changes on game day with Tom Eisenhuth 18th man.
Wests Tigers: The Tigers are 1-17 with no late changes. Daine Laurie is set to return from injury via the bench with Adam Doueihi named at fullback and Brandon Wakeham in the halves. Alex Seyfarth re-joins the bench in place of Joe Ofahengaue, while John Bateman and Isaiah Papali'i will start in the back row for the first time together. Starford To'a is 18th man.
Match: Storm v Wests Tigers
Round 4 -
Fullback for Storm is number 1 Nick MeaneyFullback for Wests Tigers is number 1 Adam Doueihi
Winger for Storm is number 2 Will WarbrickWinger for Wests Tigers is number 2 Charlie Staines
Centre for Storm is number 3 Reimis SmithCentre for Wests Tigers is number 3 Brent Naden
Centre for Storm is number 4 Justin OlamCentre for Wests Tigers is number 4 Asu Kepaoa
Winger for Storm is number 5 Xavier CoatesWinger for Wests Tigers is number 5 Junior Tupou
Five-Eighth for Storm is number 6 Cameron MunsterFive-Eighth for Wests Tigers is number 6 Brandon Wakeham
Halfback for Storm is number 22 Jonah PezetHalfback for Wests Tigers is number 7 Luke Brooks
Prop for Storm is number 8 Tui KamikamicaProp for Wests Tigers is number 8 Stefano Utoikamanu
Hooker for Storm is number 9 Harry GrantHooker for Wests Tigers is number 9 Apisai Koroisau
Prop for Storm is number 10 Christian WelchProp for Wests Tigers is number 10 David Klemmer
2nd Row for Storm is number 11 Trent Loiero2nd Row for Wests Tigers is number 11 Isaiah Papali'i
2nd Row for Storm is number 12 Eliesa Katoa2nd Row for Wests Tigers is number 12 John Bateman
Lock for Storm is number 13 Josh KingLock for Wests Tigers is number 13 Fonua Pole
Interchange for Storm is number 14 Tyran WishartInterchange for Wests Tigers is number 14 Daine Laurie
Interchange for Storm is number 15 Alec MacDonaldInterchange for Wests Tigers is number 15 Alex Twal
Interchange for Storm is number 16 Tariq SimsInterchange for Wests Tigers is number 16 Shawn Blore
Interchange for Storm is number 17 Bronson GarlickInterchange for Wests Tigers is number 17 Alex Seyfarth
Replacement for Storm is number 18 Tom EisenhuthReplacement for Wests Tigers is number 18 Starford To'a
- Referee: Ben Cummins
- Touch Judge: Matt Noyen
- Touch Judge: Darian Furner
- Senior Review Official: Grant Atkins
- The Storm have won seven of their past nine games against Wests Tigers.
- Wests Tigers second-rower John Bateman has won two from two at AAMI Park.
- The Storm have lost their last three games at AAMI Park.
- Wests Tigers forward Joe Ofahengaue has lost all 11 games against the Storm.
- Storm fullback Nick Meaney has scored five tries in his past five games against Wests Tigers.
Stats supplied by David Middleton, League Information Services, author of the official annual of the NRL.