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Following the release of next year?s NRL draw today, Melbourne Storm will have to wait until round two before commencing its assault on the 2004 National Rugby League Telstra Premiership, after drawing a bye in round one.
The Storm will play its first two matches of the 2004 season at Olympic Park with the first being against Andrew Johns? Newcastle Knights in round two (19-21 March), followed by the round three match against the St George Illawarra Dragons (26-28 March).
Melbourne will play five home games in the opening nine rounds and has its second bye of the season in 15. The Storm?s first away game of the year is against the Brisbane Broncos at the newly developed Suncorp Stadium.
Melbourne will finish the NRL?s regular season with two away matches against the Sharks in round 25 and, as was the case in 2003, against the Manly Sea Eagles in round 26.
Melbourne fans will have to wait until round 17 to see the 2003 premiership-winning Penrith Panthers at Olympic Park, while the Storm retains blockbuster home games against the New Zealand Warriors (round 16), the Roosters (round 21) and the Bulldogs (round 24).
The Storm has been pooled with League heavyweights the Roosters and the Brisbane Broncos as well as the North Queensland Cowboys and the Manly Sea Eagles, meaning it plays these teams just once throughout the 2004 regular season.
THE STORM?S 2004 DRAW 1 v Bye 2 v Newcastle Knights (H) (19-21 March) 3 v St George Illa Dragons (H) 4 v Brisbane Broncos (A) 5 v Penrith Panthers (A) 6 v Sth Syd Rabbitohs (H) 7 v Nth Qld Cowboys (H) 8 v NZ Warriors (A) 9 v Sharks (H) 10 v Parramatta Eels (A) 11 v Canberra Raiders (H) 12 v Newcastle Knights (A) 13 v Wests Tigers (H) 14 v Sth Syd Rabbitohs (A) 15 v Bye 16 v NZ Warriors (H) 17 v Penrith Panthers (H) 18 v Bulldogs (A) 19 v Wests Tigers (A) 20 v Parramatta Eels (H) 21 v Syd Roosters (H) 22 v St George Illa Dragons (A) 23 v Canberra Raiders (A) 24 v Bulldogs (H) 25 v Sharks (A) 26 v Manly Sea Eagles (A)