Raiders v Storm: Five Things
1. Back to AAMI Park
The Green Machine is set to return to AAMI Park for the first time since last year’s heartbreaking preliminary final exit. Saturday night will present the Raiders with the opportunity to exact revenge for the 14-12 loss in a quest to finish 2017 on a high.
2. Top Try-scorer of the Year up for grabs
Three players will take to AAMI Park with a chance to claim Dally M Top Try-scorer of the Year. Defending champion Suliasi Vunivalu sits in equal-first on 22 tries, electric Raiders winger Jordan Rapana has crossed for 20 and Josh Addo-Carr (19) remains an outside chance of snatching victory. Souths’ Alex Johnston is neck-and-neck with Vunivalu but will again watch from the sidelines with a hamstring injury.
3. Battle of the Queenslanders
Within the battle another battle will play out when kingpin second-rower Josh Papalii meets a host of Queensland teammates. Papalii combined forces with Melbourne’s Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk, Billy Slater, Will Chambers, Cameron Munster and Tim Glasby to claim another Origin series victory this year, but will aim to leave Storm territory with a win on the weekend.
4. Goodbye to the big boppers
Two of the Raiders’ big men in Dave Taylor and Jeff Lima will wave goodbye to the NRL after the Melbourne clash. The ‘Coal Train’ will set sail for Canada at season’s end to join the Toronto Wolfpack in the English Super League, while 224-game NRL/Super League veteran Lima will hang up the boots. The game will bring to end a one-year stint in green for Taylor and a two-year stint for Lima. What will bring extra meaning to Lima’s swansong is he is a former Storm player who in fact called the club home in its 2007 and 2009 premiership seasons.
5. Raiders milestones
Blake Austin will notch up his 100th NRL game when he takes to the field against the Storm at AAMI Park and Sia Soliola will play his 150th NRL match after returning from suspension for the green machine. A great achievement for both players.