Storm ready for new-look Warriors
It's a vastly different Warriors side preparing for the annual Anzac Day clash from the team that were beaten 42-0 at the hands of the Melbourne Storm in last year's corresponding fixture.
The Storm raced to an early 28-0 lead against the Warriors and never relented. Electric fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck was absent from that humiliating defeat, but this season he and new-recruit Kieran Foran will establish a formidable spine with halves partner Shaun Johnson and hooker Issac Luke.
Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy has identified their combination in their long 10-day preparation between matches.
Foran led the side to back-to-back victories to revive the Warriors' season before a hard 20-8 loss in Canberra last round.
"We all know with Foran, he makes a difference coming into the side. He's an experienced player and real competitor," Bellamy said.
"He straightens up their attack a lot. He's come in and taken over the organization of the attack which leaves less responsibility on Johnson's shoulders, as well as Tuivasa-Sheck and Luke.
"He's (Foran's) been really important for them when you look at their spine. Just on reputations, what they've done and are still doing in the game, it's a pretty good spine."
It also sets up a fascinating match-up between Tuivasa-Sheck and fullback Billy Slater who has also made a comeback from a severe shoulder injury during the past two seasons.
"They're obviously two wonderful players but they're two wonderful players to watch – that's why people come along. To watch our game, to watch those sort of players," Bellamy said.
"In the [preseason] trial on the Sunshine Coast, I cant remember a guy that's come back from ACL that's come back as well as he (Tuivasa-Sheck) did. It just goes to show he's a bit of a freak of nature."
Bellamy will also relish several difficult team decisions with his strongest line-up available this season. With Will Chambers returning to the centres after a one-week suspension, Bellamy will assess whether to play Munster at five-eighth which could come at the expense of an in-form Ryley Jacks.
It's come at a convenient time though with the Storm enjoying the long layoff after their last match in a 30-26 win which was subpar by their standards.
"It is a special game. We will have our biggest crowd of the year here and everyone knows that," Bellamy said.
"We feel very honoured as a group to play on Anzac Day. It means more to some individuals who have relatives, grandfathers and great grandfathers serving in the army, navy and air force.
"It means a few different things but it's a great honour to play on Anzac Day and we want to honour it by playing well."