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The NRL’s weekend on the Gold Coast continues when the Melbourne Storm host the Newcastle Knights in yet another match at Cbus Super Stadium. Join The Roar for live scores from 7:35pm (AEST).
The Storm are used to this whole ‘hub’ situation, having spent the majority of their 2020 season in Queensland due to Victoria’s COVID-19 pandemic. The Knights, on the other hand, are experiencing being relocated for the first time, so it will be interesting to see whether the playing group can gel together and make the best of a bad situation.
Sitting ninth, the Knights are well and truly in the hunt for a finals berth – especially with Kalyn Ponga back fit and firing for the home stretch. It’s expected the gun fullback will back up from his Origin heroics on Wednesday, while Daniel Saifiti, who missed that game, will play despite concerns over his ribs. Tyson Frizell is also back from an ankle injury.
The battle of the fullbacks between Ponga and in-form Storm rising star Nicho Hynes will be a key storyline out of this one. Hynes’ efforts in 2021 have well and truly covered for Ryan Papenhuyzen’s concussion issues, and proved once again that no player is too irreplaceable for Craig Bellamy to fill the void.
Sitting pretty atop the ladder once again, the Storm and the Panthers once again look far removed from the rest of the competition. However, they remain just a win and points-differential ahead of the third-placed Rabbitohs, so it’s not as if they have that first week home final sewn up just yet.
Bellamy has opted for caution with Papenhuyzen and hooker Harry Grant, who will both miss this match; but Cam Munster, Josh Addo-Carr, Dale Finucane, Christian Welch and Felise Kaufusi are all expected to back up from Origin duties. The Storm have named an extended bench in case some of them are ruled out late.
The Storm have beaten the Knights in each of their last nine encounters, so Adam O’Brien’s team will have to defy recent history to cause an upset on the Gold Coast.
1. Nicho Hynes, 2. George Jennings, 3. Reimis Smith, 4. Justin Olam, 5. Josh Addo-Carr, 6. Cameron Munster, 7. Jahrome Hughes, 8. Jesse Bromwich (c), 9. Brandon Smith, 10. Christian Welch, 11. Felise Kaufusi, 12. Kenny Bromwich, 13. Dale Finucane (c)
Bench/Reserves: 14. Aaron Booth, 15. Tui Kamikamica, 16. Chris Lewis, 17. Aaron Pene | 18. Isaac Lumelume, 19. Dean Ieremia, 20. Cooper Johns, 21. Trent Loiero, 22. Jordan Grant, 23. Tepai Moeroa
1. Kalyn Ponga, 2. Dominic Young, 3. Kurt Mann, 4. Enari Tuala, 5. Hymel Hunt, 6. Jack Clifford, 7. Mitchell Pearce, 8. Jacob Saifiti, 9. Jayden Brailey (c), 10. Daniel Saifiti (c), 11. Tyson Frizell, 12. Lachlan Fitzgibbon, 13. Mitchell Barnett
Bench/Reserves: 14. Connor Watson, 15. David Klemmer, 16. Josh King, 17. Brodie Jones | 18. Jack Johns, 19. Simi Sasagi, 20. Tex Hoy, 21. Jirah Momoisea