Here is all you need to know about the Melbourne Storm's 2019 Telstra Premiership draw.
Teams they play twice: Broncos, Raiders, Bulldogs, Cowboys, Roosters, Warriors, Sharks, Titans, Sea Eagles.
Teams they play once: Panthers, Eels, Wests Tigers, Knights, Dragons, Rabbitohs.
Day-by-day breakdown: Thursday - Four, Friday - Seven, Saturday - Eight, Sunday – Five.
Five-day turnarounds: 2 (Rd 5, Rd 10).
Kick-off: After falling one win shy of back-to-back premierships, the Storm open 2019 with a home showdown against Brisbane before trips to Canberra and Bathurst to face Penrith before returning to Victoria in round four where they’ll host Canterbury.
Five key matches
Roosters (Round 6, AAMI Park): We don't have to explain why the Storm will be circling this one as soon as the draw comes out. The Storm were stunned in the first 40 minutes of the grand final loss to a fired-up Roosters, plunging to an 18-0 half-time deficit. The whole thing was very un-Melbourne and will sting for some time. Winning a regular-season game early next year will hardly cancel out the grand final but you can still bet the Storm will be desperate to win it. This is also set to be former favourite son Cooper Cronk's first ever game in Melbourne as an away player.
Five key matchups of the Storm’s 2019 draw
Sea Eagles (Round 19, AAMI Park): One of the most acrimonious rivalries in the NRL in recent years, things were brewing before they spilled over in the infamous "Battle of Brookvale" and they continued into last year with Curtis Scott sent off for punching Dylan Walker and breaking his cheekbone in Manly's 24-4 upset round 11 win at AAMI Park. Josh Addo-Carr, Apisai Koroisau, Jake Trbojevic and Dylan Walker were also sin-binned in that game.
Sharks (Round 8, Shark Park): The other recent bitter rivalry in the NRL and it's mostly been the Sharks with the bragging rights of late, though Melbourne got the one that counted last year, tipping Cronulla out of the finals after losing twice to them through the regular season. The first meeting last year was the acrimonious penalty-fest of 2018, when at the height of the crack-down the two teams conceded a whopping 33 penalties (19 against the Storm). The Sharks ground out a win at AAMI Park in round 22 but the Storm had their game faces on for round three, earning a 22-6 win a week before the grand final.
Rabbitohs (Round 21, Central Coast Stadium): Not necessarily a rivalry at this stage but we could have one brewing if these two clubs repeat the sort of contests they did in 2018. Round 21's 30-20 win to the Rabbitohs was arguably the best performance in a very good season by the cardinal and myrtle. The 29-28 win to the Storm in week one of the finals was simply one of the games of the season, full stop. If these two clubs are going to keep producing this sort of quality against each other then everyone will be looking forward to the next Storm-Rabbitohs game.
Warriors (Round 7, AAMI Park): There are usually plenty of sub-plots when the Storm and Warriors face off. For starters, it is the traditional Anzac Day game which means a lot to players from both sides. There are usually a host of Kiwi internationals on either side facing off with the Bromwich brothers, Jahrome Hughes, Nelson Asofa-Solomona and Brandon Smith likely to face off against Shaun Johnson, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Issac Luke and co. next season. The Warriors were humbled on Anzac Day in 2018, suffering their worst loss of the year and will be out to square the ledger. It is now six straight wins to Melbourne.
Toughest stretch: Rounds 13-17. Despite Billy Slater hanging up his boots and the representative retirement of Cameron Smith, the Storm will still be heavily affected during the State of Origin period. They come out of their round-12 bye with a host of stars looking to back up from Origin I against a fresh Warriors side in Auckland before hosting the Knights in round 14. They then head straight into two very tough away games: premiers Sydney Roosters (set to be in Adelaide again) then the Dragons in Wollongong before returning home for an always tough meeting with Cronulla.
NRL Telstra premiership draw 2019
And another thing: The Storm get their first taste of Carrington Park at Bathurst in what has become an annual home fixture for Penrith. They will be Penrith's fifth different opponents there in six years and hoping to be the second straight visiting team to taste victory after North Queensland's win there in 2018.
- Broncos 2019 draw snapshot
- Raiders 2019 draw snapshot
- Bulldogs 2019 draw snapshot
- Sharks 2019 draw snapshot
- Titans 2019 draw snapshot
- Sea Eagles 2019 draw snapshot
- Knights 2019 draw snapshot
- Warriors 2019 draw snapshot
- Cowboys 2019 draw snapshot
- Eels 2019 draw snapshot
- Panthers 2019 draw snapshot
- Dragons 2019 draw snapshot
- Rabbitohs 2019 draw snapshot
- Roosters 2019 draw snapshot
- Tigers 2019 draw snapshot