Storm vs Warriors preview from expert NRL analyst Steve Green, including recommended bet.
The big factor hanging over this match is the sacking of Stephen Kearney as Warriors coach. While I agree with the general sentiment that the timing was a bit strange, in some ways I am amazed he held on for so long. He oversaw a very unsuccessful period and during that time they lost a whole heap of talent, and made some questionable recruitment decisions.
I am obviously not a believer in the Warriors in 2020, having backed them for the spoon, but the way the team is shaping up this weekend is the strongest I have seen since the competition resumed in late May.
Firstly, the Warriors look set to have a back three of Maumalo, Fusitu’a (replaced by Beale) and Tuivasa-Sheck. That is a great basis to work off and on their day, they are as good any back three in the competition. Hiku is rediscovering some of his better form, while the inclusion of Chanel Harris-Tavita on the bench is a massive improvement. I don’t know why Kearney didn’t give this kid more game time during his tenure, but I reckon that was one of the selection calls that angered senior management.
And with Paasi, Papali’I and Faamausili on the bench, and Curren and Pulu in the reserves, the pack actually has some depth for once!
And while the Warriors have lost breakout back rower E Katoa and Egan for this match, I think both of those injuries can be overcome. I actually like what Lawton brings to 9 – he is a strong runner of the ball and little more unpredictable than Egan.
As for their opponents, the Storm are still a very strong team… but it is clear they lack the class they once had. Besides Munster and Smith, they don’t have any true superstars lining up anymore. By shutting down these two you can really stunt their attack.
Hughes and Addo-Carr are returning, but it’s the Storm’s forward pack that has me worried. For example, I rated Jesse Bromwich as the best prop in the world for a few years a while back… but now he wouldn’t be in my top 10. He makes about 130 metres a game, mostly easy metres on the third or fourth ruck. He’s made only two tackle breaks in 6 games, yet he’s missed 11 tackles in that time. He is also making one error per game.
His little brother Kenny has been even more disappointing in 2020. After a breakout year in 2019, K Bromwich is making less than 50 metres per game. He simply doesn’t look fit enough to cope with the speed of the play.
Big Tino and Big Nelson, along with B Smith provide plenty of punch off the bench. But they don’t have the ruthlessness overall that we’ve come to expect from the Storm over the past 15 years.
Making matters worse for the Storm, they have been asked to leave Victoria and this game has been relocated to Kogarah – therefore negating the small advantage that Storm would have had if this game was kept at AAMI Park.
The big question here is how the Warriors players react to the sacking of popular coach Kearney. A team can bounce back after a coach sacking mid-season. But that is often where the coach had lost the dressing room and the players respond positively to the decision.
But with the players reportedly shocked and saddened, a lot will come down to how stand-in coach Todd Payten can bring the squad together and motivate them to send Kearney off in style. I know that would be my pitch – “Do you want to show Kearney how much you respect him? Well get out there and beat the Storm for him”.
All in all, considering squad strength and the location of this game, I think the line here is too big. Therefore I’m happy to bet the Warriors with the big head start..
STOP PRESS: LATE MAIL – Fusitua and Burr have been ruled out for the Warriors. Not great, but also not enough to warrant changing our bet. They have a good replacement for Fusitua in Beale and Burr isn’t in great touch this year. Brenko Lee is out for the Storm, with Momirovski making his debut.
Storm vs Warriors: predicted score
Storm vs Warriors: recommended bets
Bet 2 Units on Warriors +16.5
Don’t forget, TopSport have $2 lines on NRL once final teams are confirmed. You won’t get a better price on the Storm vs Warriors line anywhere.