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2021 NRL Round 1: Storm vs Rabbitohs Preview & Betting Tips

March 10th 2021, 12:08pm, By: Greg Davis

NRL Betting Tips Storm Rabbitohs

The 2021 NRL season kicks off this Thursday with a cracking match between the Storm and the Rabbitohs. Once again, we’ll be covering every match of the season right here on BYB and to kick off our coverage, we welcome seasoned NRL journalist Greg Davis to the team. Greg is a sports writer with over 25 years experience covering NRL, State of Origin, AFL, Super Rugby and more for a variety of news and media outlets. Follow Greg on Twitter at @GregDavis006

Here’s Greg's preview and NRL betting tips for Storm vs Rabbitohs this Thursday.

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2021 NRL Round 1: Storm vs Rabbitohs Preview & Betting Tips

AAMI Park, Melbourne - Thursday 8:05pm

There are two things in the past decade in the NRL that you could take to the bank. Melbourne winning Round 1 and one, or all, of the Storm’s “Big Three” playing a major role in the club getting off a flying start to the season.

But for the first time, in a long time, the Storm will begin a campaign without the legendary trio of Cam Smith, Billy Slater and/or Cooper Cronk.

It’s a new era in the Victorian capital.

Melbourne’s remarkable Round 1 record has a chance to continue when the Storm host South Sydney at AAMI Park on Thursday night – the first home game for the Storm in front of spectators since September 2019.

Melbourne have not lost a season-opener under master coach Craig Bellamy since he arrived at the club for the 2003 NRL season.

The last time the Storm lost in Round 1 was 2001. John Howard was Australia’s Prime Minister and LeAnn Rimes’ “Can’t Fight the Moonlight” from the movie soundtrack of “Coyote Ugly” was top of the charts.

The Storm’s notoriously gruelling pre-season training schedule and the rock-solid culture that demands excellence always has Melbourne ready to go from the opening kick-off and they will field a line-up with a number of significant changes from the side that beat Penrith in last year’s grand final.

Smith (retired), backrower Tino Fa’asuamaleaui (Titans) and try-scoring machine Suliasi Vunivalu (Qld Reds) have left the club while co-captain Dale Finucane (calf) will miss the first month of the 2021 premiership. The heir apparent to Smith’s hooking role – young gun Harry Grant – will miss three weeks with a knee injury.

But here’s the thing about the Storm. They have an international in the “The Block of Cheese” Brandon Smith to fill-in at dummy-half, a role he has performed at Test level for New Zealand.

No matter who leaves Melbourne, the next soldier up always knows and executes the specific role handed to him by Bellamy. The pack is still star-studded while any backline containing Cam Munster, Josh Addo-Carr and Ryan Papenhuyzen commands respect.

The purple premiership-winning powerhouse will still need all hands-on deck if they are to beat the “Pride of the League” in the season-opener.

Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett has named a strong squad with established combinations. He also would not mind getting a win over his former protégé as Bellamy's head-to-head record against Bennett-coached teams is very lopsided.

The spine of fullback Latrell Mitchell, halves Cody Walker and Adam Reynolds and hooker Damien Cook is as good as any in the NRL.

The Bunnies have legitimate strike out wide with Dane Gagai, Alex Johnston and Josh Mansour with Origin players Cam Murray and Jaydn Su’A in the back row. A young fella by the name of Benji Marshall will be coming off the bench as well to give the Rabbitohs some playmaking class, if required.

It would not be a shock to see these two teams play in the very last game of 2021, so this should be a cracking way to start the season.

The Storm's home ground advantage, Round 1 record and class from fullback to front-row should allow them to just pip Souths. Melbourne by 6.

Melbourne:

1.Ryan Papenhuyzen 2. George Jennings 3. Reimis Smith 4. Justin Olam 5. Josh Addo-Carr  6. Cameron Munster 7. Jahrome Hughes 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Brandon Smith 10. Christian Welch 11.Felise Kaufusi 12. Kenny Bronwich 13. Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Interchange:14. Chris Lewis 15.Tui Kamikamica 16. Tom Eisenhuth 17. Nicholas Hynes 18. Darryn Song 19. Cooper Johns 20. Trent Loiero 21. Tyson Smoothy

Souths:

1.Latrell Mitchell 2. Alex Johnson 3. Dane Gagai 4. Campbell Graham 5. Josh Mansour 6. Cody Walker 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Tom Burgess 9. Damien Cook 10. Tevita Tatola 11. Jacob Host 12. Jayden Su’A 13. Cameron Murray. Interchange: 14. Benji Marshall 15. Mark Nicholls 16. Keaon Kolomatangi 17. Jai Arrow 18. Patrick Mago 19. Jason Paulo 20. Tautau Moga 21. Troy Darga

Melbourne Storm 1-12

$3.40

Josh Addo-Carr 1st Try Scorer

$10.00

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