The Best of the Day preview grubbers some NRL tips into the in-goal ahead of a bumper season-opening grudge match between the Melbourne Storm and Brisbane Broncos.
19:50 (AEDT) @ AAMI Park, Melbourne
History: Played 45: Melbourne 31 V Brisbane 13 (1 Draw)
Last Meeting: Round 14, 2018: Melbourne 32 d Brisbane 16 at AAMI Park
Final Thoughts: The Melbourne Storm and Brisbane Broncos both underwent significant change over the off-season. But both traditional NRL superpowers are among the top four contenders in 2019 futures betting.
🚨 24H WARNING 🚨#NRLStormBroncos
— LeagueUnlimited 🏉 Rugby League News (@LeagueUnlimited) March 13, 2019
The phenomenally consistent Storm negotiated Cooper Cronk’s departure admirably in 2018. But after a bewildering grand final no-show against the Roosters, they have also farewelled legendary fullback Billy Slater.
Jahrome Hughes gets the first crack at the No.1 jumper. But the likes of Cameron Smith, Cameron Munster, Jesse Bromwich and Will Chambers are the players who need to step up and fill the leadership and experience void.
Craig Bellamy had a gentle word with Jahrome Hughes at the start of the pre-season… 🗣
— Melbourne Storm (@storm) March 13, 2019
“I think I'll have to be a bit more of a leader with Bill gone, probably talking more, organising shape a bit more and getting my hands on the ball more” – Munster has asserted himself as one of the game’s premier players and must lead https://t.co/3nI5hXUeCh #MelbourneProud #NRL
— Daniel Watson Hayes™ (@dwatsonhayes) March 8, 2019
After a long-running Wayne Bennet-led circus, the Broncos belatedly have Anthony Seibold on-board as coach. He is set to get the best out of maligned halves Anthony Milford and Kodi Nikorima, while he has a mouth-watering array of young forward talent at his disposal.
The Broncos have maintained a very stable roster, with the bonus of getting Matt Gillett and Jack Bird back from long-term injury layoffs. The representative duo will start at lock and centre respectively.
— Brisbane Broncos (@brisbanebroncos) March 13, 2019
— Brisbane Broncos (@brisbanebroncos) March 11, 2019
Melbourne are unmistakably Brisbane’s bogey team. The Storm have won 15 of the last 17 between the archrivals, including the last five straight.
They have won the last four margins of 14 or more – including a 34-20 victory at Suncorp Stadium and a 32-16 success at home last season.
The Storm went 9-4 at AAMI Park last season, while the Broncos put together a 6-5 record on the road.
As South Sydney experienced under Seibold last year, it may take several rounds for the Broncos – a massive chance of carrying off the premiership – to adjust a new style under a technical new coach.
The Storm’s dominance over the Broncos and core of experience renders them the smart option in Round 1.
ARE YOU READY!?
— NRL (@NRL) March 13, 2019