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The Melbourne Storm and Brisbane Broncos will kick the new NRL season to life when they clash at AAMI Park. Join The Roar for live scores and coverage of the opener from 7:50pm (AEDT).
The Storm come into the new season without Billy Slater, who has retired, but still hold one of the best rosters.
Cameron Munster is the key man for them, and even more so against a side like the Broncos.
Munster becomes such a key in this game because of the weakness in Brisbane’s kicking game. Whether new coach Anthony Seibold has been able to adopt new plans will be discovered in due course, but he can only work with the tools he has.
Neither Anthony Milford or Kodi Nikorima are organising halves, and that’s a problem when it comes to the kicking game.
Munster’s main focus in this clash should be dominating field position with his kicking game, and alongside young guns Brodie Croft and Jahrome Hughes, controlling the contest on the back of their pack.
Of course, as the old saying goes, the halves may as well stay in the shed if the forwards don’t do the job, and that’s where this game, for the first 60 minutes at least, should be fairly even.
The Brisbane forward pack is an exciting one. Young guns like Jaydn Su’A, Joe Ofahnegaue and David Fifita headline their charge, but dealing with Melbourne is a tough assignment first up.
While the Storm have consistent performers Jesse Bromwich and Dale Finucane, it’s Kiwi man-mountain Nelson Asofa-Solomona who could break this game wide open.
With the visitors’ youth in the pack, they might run out of puff in the final 20, and given their horrific overall record against the Storm, winning their first game under Seibold will be a tough ask.
The Storm are at home and the questions surrounding the Broncos are going to take some weeks for Anthony Seibold to iron out. Given their record against Melbourne, they will start 2019 with a tough loss.
Storm by 12.
Be sure to join The Roar for live coverage of this season-opener from 7:50pm (AEDT) and don’t forget to add a comment in the section below.
Kick-off: 7:50pm (AEDT)
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
TV: Live, Fox Sports 502, Channel 9
Online: Live, Foxtel app, Foxtel now, Kayo Sports, 9Now, NRL digital pass
Betting: Storm $1.72, Broncos $2.12
Overall record: Played 45, Storm 31, Broncos 13, drawn 1
Last meeting: Round 14, 2018 – Storm 32 defeat Broncos 16 at AAMI Park
Last five: Storm 5, Broncos 0
Record at venue: Played 10, Storm 7, Broncos 3
Referees: Gerrard Sutton, Matt Noyen
1. Jahrome Hughes, 2. Suliasi Vunivalu, 3. Will Chambers, 4. Curtis Scott, 5. Josh Addo-Carr, 6. Cameron Munster, 7. Brodie Croft, 8. Jesse Bromwich, 9. Cameron Smith (c), 10. Nelson Asofa-Solomona, 11. Felise Kaufusi, 12. Kenny Bromwich, 13. Dale Finucane
Interchange: 14. Brandon Smith, 15. Christian Welch, 16. Tui Kamikamica, 17. Patrick Kaufusi, 18. Ryan Papenhuyzen, 19. Tom Eisenhuth, 20. Billy Walters, 21. Marion Seve
1. Darius Boyd (c), 2. Corey Oates, 3. James Roberts, 4. Jack Bird, 5. Jamayne Isaako, 6. Anthony Milford, 7. Kodi Nikorima, 8. Matthew Lodge, 9. Andrew McCullough, 10. Joe Ofahengaue, 11. Alex Glenn, 12. Jaydn Su’A, 13. Matt Gillett
Interchange: 14. Kotoni Staggs, 15. David Fifita, 16. Thomas Flegler, 17. Tevita Pangai, 18. Shaun Fensom, 19. Patty Carrigan, 20. Sean O’Sullivan, 21. Gehamat Shibasaki