NRL news | Parramatta Eels v Melbourne Storm team lists, ugly back-row reality exposed
The battle between two totally new-look back rows holds the key to Thursday night’s premiership opener between the Eels and Storm.
Remarkably, there are no survivors of the six back-rowers from when the teams last met last September.
The Eels have lost Isaiah Papali’i (Tigers), Marate Niukore (Warriors) and Shaun Lane (injured), replacing them with veteran Bryce Cartwright and newcomers Matt Doorey and J’maine Hopgood.
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The Storm have also been cut apart in the back row, with Felise Kaufusi and Kenny Bromwich going to the Dolphins and Tui Kamikamica out with a foot injury.
Craig Bellamy has had to dig deep into the Storm’s depth in round one, with Trent Loiero, Warriors recruit Eliesa Katoa and Josh King in the back row.
The match will be an early test for both clubs, who were hit hard in the off-season transfer market.
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Melbourne lost Kaufusi, Brandon Smith (Roosters), the Bromwich brothers (Dolphins), David Nofoaluma (Wests Tigers – return from loan) and Cooper Johns (Sea Eagles).
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The Eels have also had an unhappy time, losing key forwards Niukore, Papali’i, Oregon Kaufusi (Sharks), Reed Mahoney (Bulldogs), Ray Stone (Dolphins) as well as utility backs Tom Opacic (Hull KR) and Hayze Perham (Bulldogs).
The Storm start the match as slight favourites, but with the Eels at home, it is close to an even money affair.
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