Leeds Rhino’s qualified by beating last seasons runaway league leaders Castleford Tigers in a rain-soaked night at Old Trafford, inspired by captain Danny McGuire who has since left to join Hull KR. Melbourne on the other hand were easily the class act for most of last season down under, walking away with the Minor premiership before defeating North Queensland in their Grand final show piece.
Since those games last season both squads have made changes most notably in the half backs with Leeds losing long time partners Danny McGuire, and the retired Rob Burrow, bringing in ex England and Catalan Dragons half back Ritchie Myler and Warrington’s Brad Dwyer as a replacement. While Melbourne’s former golden boot winning scrum half Cooper Cronk moved north to Sydney Rooster after their win, Super coach Craig Bellamy has handed the number 7 shirt to a relative unknown out side of Melbourne, young Brodie Croft has just 5 first grade games to his name. However, joining a spine that includes the likes of world cup winners Billy Slater and Cameron Smith he has the experience around him to fulfill what is believed to be massive potential.
For the game its self, Leeds have two super league games under their belt and although they have not set the league alight two wins sees them top of the table.
They have brought in last minute replacement, back rower Josh Walters to cover Irish Prop Forward Anthony Mullally who suffered a hand injury towards the end of last weeks win over Hull KR and they are still hopeful that Stand off Joel Moon will be fit to play his first game of the season.
For the Storm, they have 10 members for their Grand Final winning squad in the starting line up, including 5 that went on to lift the World Cup Winners in Billy Slater, Will Chambers, Cameron Munster, Felise Kaufusi and Kangaroo’s skipper and current Golden Boot winner Cameron Smith.
The trio to come into their side are Ex Wigan Warrior Ryan Hoffman, prop forward Tim Glasby and young half back Croft, they replace Jordan McLean, Tohu Harris and Cronk who have all left the club.
Melbourne: 1 Billy Slater, 2 Suliasi Vunivalu, 3 Will Chambers, 4 Curtis Scott, 5 Josh Addo-Carr, 6 Cameron Munster, 7 Brodie Croft; 8 Jesse Bromwich, 9 Cameron Smith (c), 10 Tim Glasby, 11 Felise Kaufusi, 12 Ryan Hoffman, 13 Dale Finucane.
Interchange (from): 14 Brandon Smith, 15 Nelson Asofa Solomona, 16 Kenny Bromwich, 17 Christian Welch, 18 Joe Stimson, 19 Young Tonumaipea, 20 Tui Kamikamica, 21 Ryley Jacks
Leeds (from): Ashton Golding, Tom Briscoe, Kallum Watkins, Liam Sutcliffe, Ryan Hall, Joel Moon, Richie Myler, Adam Cuthbertson, Matt Parcell, Brad Singleton, Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Carl Ablett, Stevie Ward, Brad Dwyer, Brett Delaney, Jimmy Keinhorst, Jack Ormondroyd, Jack Walker, Josh Walters