BY CURTIS WOODWARD
Forget State of Origin for a minute, try to ignore what the referees could butcher again this round. NRL Week 16 could start the shifting of some tectonic plates and make a difference as we move our attention to the final stage of the regular season.
There are some really juicy story lines this weekend.
We start on Thursday night in Newcastle of all places for a 2018 grand final re-match between the Sydney Roosters (5th) and the current, top-placed team, Melbourne Storm.
The Storm are rolling and it’s hard to find a team in 2021 that has seen so much roster upheaval in the Roosters which has included the sudden retirements of Boyd Cordner, Jake Friend and Brett Morris.
But the Roosters are never dead and while they may not make the grand final this year, there’s still a few feathers left on this chook. A Tricolours victory won’t see them climb up the ladder but it could begin something else.
But if the Bondi boys lose and Manly win, the Sea Eagles join them on 20 points.
A Melbourne loss would leave them open to losing top spot to the Penrith Panthers if they beat bitter foes Parramatta the following night. If the Eels win, they could join the Storm and the Panthers in the penthouse. South Sydney could join them too if they beat Wests Tigers as expected on Sunday at an empty Leichhardt Oval.
The 6pm Friday night game has ramifications too.
A New Zealand Warriors triumph in Gosford against St George Illawarra would see them join the Dragons on 14 points.
A win for the Canberra Raiders may kick-start their season as they sit just outside the Top 8 but if Gold Coast get up it could also reignite their campaign and sit them alongside any number of clubs including Canberra at the end of the round.
Cronulla aren’t done just yet and two premiership points on Sunday in a rare day game at Suncorp against Brisbane could potentially see them as high as 7th depending on other results.
NRL.com ladder predictor Top 8
If all favourites win
If picking upsets in tighter games
(Wins for Roosters, Eels, Dragons, Titans, Cowboys)