Battle For The Top 8

Gold Coast Titans Tackle
The Titans can end a run of outs on Monday night. Source: Getty Images/

Gold Coast Titans v Melbourne Storm
CBUS Stadium
Monday June 16 – 7:05 PM (AEST)

Storm: LWWLL

The Melbourne Storm  is in unfamiliar territory. Normally one of the powerhouses of the NRL, they are sitting outside the Top 8 and have struggled to find any consistency this year. With Billy Slater and Cameron Smith missing through Origin, and Cooper Cronk out for 8 weeks with a fractured arm, things are looking bleak down in Victoria. The Gold Coast Titans  are sitting just above the Storm. After a strong start to the season, they have fallen off badly due to injuries and suspensions to key players.

Only a few predicted the Storm’s decline was imminent. Such a dominant figure for so long, it was only a matter of time. With the “Big 3” at the back-end of their careers, the Storm has to start looking to the future or risk falling behind.

For this key game on the Coast, Cameron Smith, Billy Slater, Will Chambers and Ryan Hoffman are excluded due to Origin, with Ryan Hinchcliffe moving to hooker, Cameron Munster to fullback, Kurt Mann to the centres and Tohu Harris into the second row. Ben Roberts and Ben Hampton make up the halves, with Joel Romelo, Tim Glasby, Felise Kaufusi, Hymel Hunt, Jordan McLean and Travis Robinson added to an extended bench.

The Titans are in a world of hurt at the moment. Injuries upon injuries have plagued their season. It started with their halfback Albert Kelly and then it was their five-eighth Aiden Sezer. Now Ashley Harrison is on the injured list. With Nate Myles, Greg Bird and big Dave Taylor missing for Origin, it’s a side lacking in star power. Paul Carter is a star of the future, but after being stood down by the club for DUI, the young back-rower's future is clouded. Beau Falloon has been named for his return, pushing Matt Srama to the bench. Luke Bailey starts up front, with James Roberts, Caleb Binge and Mark Ioane added to an extended bench.

This will be a match where everyone needs to step up. Both teams are down on strike power and it'll come down which team gels best on the night.

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