NRL 2018 is back with a full round this week, and we’ve got two huge blockbusters to kick things off on Friday Night Footy. NRL Tips guru Steve Green gives his take on both matches.
Warriors vs Sharks
An absolute ripper of a game to kick off Friday night footy!
The Warriors have a fair few players backing up from the Denver Test, but luckily key players like Johnson, RTS and Harris sat out. Kata and Fusitua have also both been named and were rested from playing due to injury concerns, so I am a little surprised that the money has come pouring in for the Sharks.
While Kearney has said that he wants to give guys like Luke and Hiku a rest, I think that this game is too important and the fact that they are named in the reserves indicates that he might still name them on game day.
While the last minute inclusion of Woods is big (I know people don’t rate him, I do! He needs to put his head down and make metres before looking for the offload, but on his day is one of the most damaging props in the game – his combination with Fifita and Prior will be huge!).
But the Sharks are still without Dugan, and with Lewis and Graham out, I don’t think the Sharks should be heading across the ditch as favourite. They’ve lost 2 out of their last 3 and their one win was against a Wests team that had been down on form.
While the Sharks went on a streak before that, this was against a whole host of weaker teams (like Titans x 2, Eels, Raiders and Doggies).
Whereas the Warriors have continued to defy their critics. On my ratings these two teams match up pretty evenly, but the Warriors have the home ground advantage and the Sharks actually have more players backing up from rep weekend.
Roosters vs Storm
This is the game that many predicted would be the Grand Final in 2018. Well Souths and Dragons have something to say about that prediction, however both these teams are still genuine contenders for 2018.
It’s just a real shame that the NRL’s scheduling means that this game is being played after rep weekend, with a whole host of players in doubt due to niggling injuries and delayed flights from the Denver Test!
While the Roosters were also affected by the Rep weekend and their captain Cordner has been ruled out, I do think that some of the Roosters key players (Keary, Cronk, Friend etc…) are unaffected and with Tedesco and Mitchell set to back up, I think the Roosters are right in this one!
For the Storm, they are already going to be without Finucane and Bromwich, and considering the workload of Kaufusi and Munster on Sunday night, I think both of these guys will be struggling to back up. If they do play they won’t be 100%. I also think that there is every indication Slater won’t play and Hughes will be given the number 1 jersey while the champion fullback is given an extra week to get his hammy fully repaired.
On my ratings, the Roosters recent form has really improved. It was always going to take a while for Cronk and Tedesco to fully settle in, but I think their backline moves are looking really crisp. On top of that, the Roosters forwards are really improving in form. JWH, Lui, Taukeiaho and Tetevano have improved in recent weeks, while Matterson is also set to return. Even if Napa is rested from this one, I still think the Roosters forwards have the edge over the depleted and weary Storm forward pack.
Although the Roosters have lost Manu through suspension, they have welcomed back Tupou in recent weeks and when you throw in Ferguson, the Roosters outside backs should be able to match the Storm’s talented outside backs.
All in all, the Roosters should come into this match a little fresher and with less key players our injured.