Bromwich braces for Graham confrontation
While State of Origin rivalry retires for yet another year an international one will take place when the Storm host the Bulldogs on Saturday night.
One man a Brit, the other a Kiwi and should they collide the foundations of AAMI Park may shake beneath their feet.
Storm prop Jesse Bromwich will go toe-to-toe with Bulldogs counterpart James Graham in a contest between two of the in-form forwards in the game.
As far as hit-up metres go this season Graham is ranked second while Bromwich third, while they are averaging 151 and 141 metres a game respectively.
Given the stars of their respective teams are likely to be below full fitness on the back of midweek Origin duty the match-up in the forward pack between these two men could prove to be a deciding one.
The task at hand is not lost on the Storm big man.
“He [Graham] is probably the form front-rower I reckon,” Bromwich told NRL.com.
“He just seems to work hard, get a lot of carries and make a lot of tackles. Even his ball play is really good.”
The Kiwi international admits there is an added competitive edge that creeps in when the opportunity to take on the competition’s best presents itself.
“Every week I think I need to have that [competitive edge] but when you’re coming up against someone like James Graham and even Kasiano, I really need to step up this week and help the boys out.”
In a blow for the Bulldogs Josh Reynolds is almost certain to miss the Round 18 clash and the two games following for a shoulder charge on Will Chambers in Origin III.
That leaves a total of seven Origin players – five from the Storm – faced with the herculean task of backing up for Saturday night’s meeting.
All eyes will be on Storm halfback Cooper Cronk who was left off the Storm team sheet on Tuesday but has not been ruled out by coach Craig Bellamy as a late inclusion.
Cronk made his return in Origin III after an eight-week absence with a broken arm and is touch-and-go to play his first game for Melbourne in almost two months.
Bellamy revealed on the eve of Cronk’s return he wished the star halfback had opted out of Game Three.
Bromwich admitted though he would have made the same decision to play if in his teammate's situation.
“For me I’m a proud Kiwi so obviously I would give it a crack and play for my country,” said Bromwich.
“But with State of Origin that is maybe a little bit bigger than international for them… I would probably do it personally.”
Melbourne take on Canterbury at 7.30pm on Saturday night at AAMI Park.