The Canberra Raiders will be hoping to celebrate Jack Wighton’s 150th match in style when they take on the Melbourne Storm at AAMI Park on Saturday afternoon.
The Green Machine will be looking to bounce back after last week’s narrow 22-18 loss to the Sydney Roosters, and in the process further entrench themselves in the top four.
Last weekend the Storm claimed a 26-16 win last round over fellow top-four hopefuls the South Sydney Rabbitohs to further their lead at the top of the ladder.
The Raiders welcome back Joey Leilua, who comes back into the side after sustaining a neck injury in Round 7, meaning Nick Cotric shifts back to the wing and Bailey Simonsson moves on to the bench.
The Raiders will be looking to break their Melbourne hoodoo, having not won a game at AAMI Park since 2013.
Last Time: The Storm defeated the Raiders 22-10 in Round 2 earlier this year. Despite a second-half double from Jarrod Croker, a Suliasi Vunivalu hat-trick guided the Storm to the victory.
Josh Hodgson v Cameron Smith
In what will be the match-up of the weekend, Raiders captain Josh Hodgson will come up against Melbourne captain Cameron Smith.
Hodgson has cemented himself as one of the best hookers in the league since joining the Raiders in 2015.
The England International leads the Raiders tackle count with 678, as well as assisting ten tries and scoring one for the season. He also leads the NRL in successful one on one strips.
Smith remains at the centre of Melbourne’s attack and defence. The former Australian captain mas made 808 tackles so far this season, the most of any Storm player. He also leads the NRL for receipts with 2,332.
Both hookers will be in fine form throughout the match and will be doing everything they can to influence the match in any which way.
Jack Wighton v Cameron Munster
Two of the competitions energetic five-eighths will clash for the fourth time this weekend as NSW Representative Jack Wighton takes on QLD Representative Cameron Munster.
Wighton has been one of the Raiders best players this season after his move to No. 6, scoring seven and assisting three this season and earning himself a call up to Brad Fittler’s NSW side.
The Raider will be hoping to come out of Saturday’s match with a win, as he celebrates his 150th appearance for the Green Machine.
Munster has been one of the NRL’s most consistent players this season, scoring two tries and assisting 12.
Joey Leilua v Will Chambers
The Raiders welcome back one of their most lethal players in Joey Leilua who will make his 200th NRL appearance.
Leilua has been out since Round 7 with a neck injury but will be looking to hit the ground running with finals looming.
The Samoan international was in fine form early in the season with four tries in seven appearances.
Leilua’s opponent this weekend, Will Chambers has scored five tries so far in 2019.
Now in 11th NRL season, Chambers is an experienced competitor and was an important member of the Queensland Maroons backline for his fifth series.
The two experienced centres will be hoping to be influential in this weekend’s clash and will both be hoping to get on the board in the match.
Head to Head: The Canberra Raiders and Melbourne Storm have met on 43 separate occasions, with the Raiders only winning 11 compared to the Storm’s 31, with the last remaining match ending in a draw.