Thu 16 March 2017
AAMI Park - Crowd: 16344

Big guns go to battle in Melbourne's first home game of 2017.

This is gonna be good. Playing at home for the first time this year, the Storm will fancy their chances after grinding out wins in the wet against Canterbury and the Warriors in the opening two rounds. Strangely for the southern capital, humid summer conditions are expected for this clash, a stark change from what the men in purple and navy have become accustomed to across the opening fortnight of the 2017 campaign.

The home side also welcomes back Billy Slater from a long term injury. Long considered one of the game's best fullbacks, his inclusion pushes deputy Cameron Munster back into the halves alongside Cooper Cronk, with rookie five-eighth Ryley Jacks dropped to an extended bench. Jesse Bromwich has been named in jersey 21 and is an outside change of an early return from injury.

Brisbane will be devastated coming off a golden point loss to northern rivals North Queensland and head south to Victoria with a point to prove. They're unchanged from the Friday night classic, the only looming question for them a hip injury to Jordan Kahu which could see David Mead make his starting debut for the club after moving there from neighbouring Gold Coast Titans in the off-season.

Last meeting: Round 25 2016 - Storm 16 Broncos 26

These two teams often serve up a classic. Last year the Storm smashed Brisbane during the Origin period before the Broncos returned serve on the eve of the finals. Overall Melbourne hold a 26-13 advantage across 40 matches with one draw. The pair met in the 2006 NRL Grand Final where Brisbane claimed their most recent premiership by a 15-8 scoreline. The Broncos have visited AAMI Park seven times since the venue opened in 2010, losing four matches and winning three.

Who to watch: Billy the kid is back! How he fares in his return to NRL action for the first time in over a year will be the key talking point from this match. Slater has been a mainstay of the Storm's 'big three' for a long time and many fans will be hoping his intuitive combination with Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith is as good as ever. If he's 100% fit, the home side will grow an extra leg from his presence. Fingers crossed!

James Roberts was electric on Friday night. He opened Brisbane's account on the scoreboard and asked questions of the Cowboys' outside men all night. The Broncos' forward pack laid a fantastic platform over the opening two rounds allowing players like Roberts and Darius Boyd to do their thing - more of the same is vital if Brisbane want to pick up valuable points away from home. 

The favourite: Home ground advantage and a 2/2 record has Melbourne firm favourites.

My tip: A parochial home crowd, the return of a favourite son and quality football will see Melbourne home after a tough 80 minutes. Storm by 4.

6. Cameron Munster 2. Suliasi Vunivalu 3. William Chambers 4. Cheyse Blair 5. Josh Addo-Carr 20. Ryley Jacks 7. Cooper Cronk 21. Jesse Bromwich 9. Cameron Smith 10. Jordan McLean 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Kenneath Bromwich 13. Dale Finucane 1. Billy Slater 8. Tim Glasby 14. Christian Welch 16. Nelson Asofa-Solomona

1. Darius Boyd 2. Corey Oates 3. James Roberts 4. Tautau Moga 5. Jordan Kahu 6. Anthony Milford 7. Ben Hunt 8. Korbin Sims 9. Andrew McCullough 10. Adam Blair 11. Sam Thaiday 12. Matt Gillett 13. Josh Mcguire 14. Alex Glenn 16. Herman Essese 17. Jai Arrow 18. Benji Marshall

Referees: Gerard Sutton, Matt Noyen; Sideline Officials: Brett Suttor, Ricky MacFarlane; Video Referees: Bernard Sutton, Ben Galea;