Round 7: Broncos v Storm preview
Master versus Apprentice or King versus Heir?
In a very timely and interesting turn of events, Craig Bellamy has been linked with the coaching job at Red Hill. Craig did his apprenticeship at the Broncos before moving to the Storm and becoming one of the most successful coaches of the modern era, that some Broncos organisation are now eyeing a return for Bellamy to build a new dynasty for a club that hasn't had a premiership in over 10 years - the clubs longest drought in its' short history.
Now if we take that little bit off field spice and season the return to form both teams showed last week then we may just be cooking up a classic at Suncorp on Friday night.
At the selection table we have plenty of interesting calls - mostly by Wayne Bennett for his Broncos outfit. The hosts welcome back Kodi Nikorima, but only on the interchange. Jack Bird retains his role in the centres. This forces Sam Tagataese back to the reserves list. Tevita Pangai Junior is promoted back to the starting prop role with Sam Thaiday benched once more.
Melbourne meanwhile have just one key change which sees Young Tonumaipea forced out to accommodate the return from suspension of centre Will Chambers.
Brisbane were the Storm's final victim on their way to the premiership decider last year - and it was ruthless. Overall, Melbourne dominate this fixture with 29 wins from 43 clashes.
Who to watch: Signed on an eye watering contract from Cronulla, Jack Bird was under pressure from the start of the year and you would say that at the beginning of the year he definitely wasn't delivering on the outlay. Bird was not the only Bronco that wasn't playing to the levels expected however last weekend saw him shift into the halves against the Warriors and deliver a far more rounded performance, the challenge for Jack this week is to build on last weeks form and propel the Broncos up the ladder.
2 games against Brisbane at Suncorp for 5 tries, that's some sort of strike rate! Suliasi Vunivalu would have a reasonable try scoring record against most teams by virtue of the fact he has basically scored at an average of a try a game since the start of his career but it's at Suncorp that we have seen some of the best of him. A hat-trick in his first game at Suncorp where he gave utility Nikorima a nightmare after a Corey Oates injury and a double on his next visit, after a slow start to the year Vunivalu will look to build on the return to form last week by continuing his Suncorp hot streak versus the Broncos.
My tip: Bellamy has a very strong record against Bennett, the Storm have a very strong record against Brisbane & an even stronger record when playing in Brisbane, but despite all of this the Storm have been too hot and cold for them to get my support this week. In what will be a dour affair as both teams shift back to the disjointed form they showed earlier in the season I expect Brisbane to win in a close game by 4 points.