Storm v Broncos preview

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Melbourne Storm v Brisbane Broncos Thursday 8:00pm at AAMI Park, Melbourne / Wurundjeri

The Broncos travel down south to Melbourne to take on their arch-nemesis, the Storm, with both sides being competition heavyweights, looking to add a third win to their 2024 season campaign. 

Melbourne are fresh off their first bye of the season, following their defeat to the Knights away from home in Round 3. The Storm started their season with back-to-back wins against the Panthers and Warriors, showing some strong signs in defence and attack, however had some trouble against Newcastle where they were without star halfback Jahrome Hughes, who returns from his one-week suspension this week. 

Cameron Munster makes his 2024 season return after suffering a groin injury, along with the return of Hughes, means that Tyran Wishart reverts to the bench and Jonah Pezet is dropped out of the squad. Christian Welch is also back on deck after missing out on the Round 3 clash due to HIA stand down protocol. 

Brisbane are looking to secure their first back-to-back win of the season, following a massive victory over the Cowboys last week, with a final score of 38-12. The Broncos have had a slow start to the season, with loses against the Roosters and Panthers, and despite their Round 2 win against the Rabbitohs, they had sloppy ball play and their defence was quite there. However, their defeat of the Cowboys started to show the potential that the Broncos are building towards in this 2024 season. 

The injury cloud over the Broncos seems to be hanging around for a little while longer, with Xavier Willison being ruled out after suffering a head knock at training. Ben Te Kura comes in to take his place, making his NRL debut off the bench, after being 18th man last week. This is the only change to the team which took down the Cowboys in the first of the QLD Derbys'. 

The clash between these teams has a very one-sided history and with a rivalry as alive as ever, with the Broncos only winning one of the last fifteen matches against the Storm, which was the 2023 Qualifying Final, where Brisbane claimed victory, 26-0. The Broncos also have a rough history down south, not having won at AAMI Park since 2016, so the history books are mostly dedicated to the Storm. 

Last meeting: Finals Week 1 2023 - Broncos 26 Storm 0

Who to watch:

Both sides sport squads with many star spine and forward players, however this week I am looking forward to the battle of the fullbacks. 

After missing out on most of the 2023 season due to injury, Ryan Papenhuyzen has returned as the Storm's permanent fullback, and so far, has scored three tries (including a double in Round 2), made 4 line breaks, 17 tackle breaks and six offloads. It's been a rough go for Paps and I'm happy to see him back in the starting side and playing well, and (begrudgingly) would love to see him score a try come Thursday night. 

Moving to Red Hill in 2023, Tristan Sailor is currently filling in for Reece Walsh at fullback, who is recovering from a facial fracture. Despite his limited game time, he has shown his potential in the Broncos side, making six try assists during his four games in 2023. I am looking forward to seeing him play again in the Brisbane side, as well as seeing what happens moving onwards with the return of Walsh looming. 

The favourite: Melbourne are favoured to get the job done at home and add another two points to their tally. 

My tip: As always, my heart is split in two for this match up, and I never quite know who will take home the win. I think both teams have the potential to win, and it will come right down to the wire. After a rough start the Broncos finally have some momentum swinging their way, but the Storm are back to a strong spine which could be lethal to the Brisbane side. Backing my Broncos boys to get it done though. Brisbane by 8. 

1. Ryan Papenhuyzen 2. William Warbrick 3. Reimis Smith 4. Nick Meaney 5. Xavier Coates 6. Cameron Munster 7. Jahrome Hughes 8. Tui Kamikamica 9. Harry Grant 10. Josh King 11. Shawn Blore 12. Eliesa Katoa 13. Trent Loiero 14. Tyran Wishart 15. Christian Welch 17. Alec MacDonald 19. Jack Howarth 16. Tepai Moeroa

1. Tristan Sailor 2. Jesse Arthars 3. Kotoni Staggs 4. Selwyn Cobbo 5. Deine Mariner 6. Ezra Mam 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Corey Jensen 9. Billy Walters 10. Fletcher Baker 11. Jaiyden Hunt 12. Jordan Riki 13. Patrick Carrigan 14. Tyson Smoothy 15. Benjamin Te Kura 16. Kobe Hetherington 17. Corey Oates 18. Martin Taupau

Referees: Ashley Klein; Sideline Officials: Chris Sutton, Wyatt Raymond; Video Referees: Gerard Sutton;

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