BY CURTIS WOODWARD
DALY CHERRY-EVANS VS JAHROME HUGHES
The Manly captain’s input into this one all depends on his forward pack matching the Storm and controlling the tempo of the ruck. His lethal combination with Tommy T can then be released. His opposite, Jahrome Hughes is yet another Craig Bellamy project that has helped keep Melbourne at the top of the food chain.
JAKE TRBOJEVIC VS DALE FINUCANE
Two of the game’s great warhorses pack down at the back of the scrums for these old rivals but play very different games. Jake will act as a link-man to the backs while Finucane only knows one way.
TOM TRBOJEVIC VS NICHO HYNES / RYAN PAPENHUYZEN
Has any player in the history of the game been in such a rich vein of form as the mighty Manly-Warringah fullback? Stopping Tom Trbojevic is impossible but if one team can contain him it is the Melbourne Storm. This is a huge week for the Sea Eagles. Nicho Hynes has been tremendous for the Storm in Ryan Papenhuyzen’s absence who returned last week off the bench for Melbourne in their win over Penrith.
SAM WALKER VS JAROME LUAI
The rookie Tricolours halfback Sam Walker has yet another big challenge ahead of him even if the Panthers are missing Nathan Cleary. Jarome Luai is obviously a star and was great for NSW in the State of Origin series. Walker has led a battered Roosters team like a grizzled veteran with the Chooks on a four-game winning streak. Nathan Cleary has been named in the reserves for the Panthers but is expected to return next week.
JARED WAEREA-HARGREAVES VS PANTHERS PACK
The 256-game Kiwi great Waerea-Hargreaves has turned back the clock and has held the Roosters together through a tough 2021 campaign and will be frothing at the chance of taking on a big Panthers pack that includes Viliame Kikau, Moses Leota, Liam Martin, Isaah Yeo and Tevita Pangai Junior.
MITCH MOSES VS ADAM REYNOLDS
Parramatta have been terrible recently but get their star play maker Mitch Moses back after injuring himself in Origin Game III. Ironically he comes up against Adam Reynolds in his return – the man who some say should have gotten the nod for the Blues in the dead rubber.
CLINT GUTHERSON VS LATRELL MITCHELL
The Eels captain needs a big performance – not just for himself but for his team and the fans. Gutherson copped plenty in the media after last week’s loss when he snapped at several of his teammates on-field in Mackay. His opposite is Latrell Mitchell. A man that could cut Parramatta apart on his own.
EELS BACK ROW VS SOUTHS BACK ROW
Talk about mouth-watering. Isaiah Papali’i, Ryan Matterson and Nathan Brown against Keaon Koloamatangi, Jai Arrow and Nathan Brown. Expect plenty of crisp footy from these six stars.
REECE WALSH VS WILLIAM KENNEDY
This is a sleeper duel in round 21. The 12th-placed Warriors against Cronulla (8th) may not be the most-watched match of the weekend but it will feature two of the rising stars in the game in respective fullbacks Reece Walsh and William Kennedy.
DANIEL SAIFITI VS PAYNE HAAS
Blues teammates at Origin level, these giant young men will clash on Thursday night at Suncorp Stadium.