St George Illawarra Dragons vs Melbourne Storm – Thursday night – WIN Stadium
Both sides are severely depleted as their best and brightest head off for the final instalment of Origin 2019, but the Storm look to have the depth to overcome it. The Dragons are down three of their best forwards (five if you count Graham and de Belin) and two of their best playmakers (three if you count Widdop). The Storm will be testing the lower reaches of their squad too, but with a whole bunch of kiwis in their pack and a captain lacing on boots for NRL game number 399, the purple machine look the goods.
Verdict – Storm by 4
Result – Storm 16 defeated Dragons 14
Wests Tigers vs Sydney Roosters – Friday night – Bankwest Stadium
The Tigers find themselves on the fringe of the top eight, and if it weren't for the runaway solo antics of Michael Chee Kam they'd be on the fringe of last. His late try against the Rabbitohs in round 15 was not unlike a try he scored earlier in the season against the Broncos, and if he keeps this up he'll be able to pull together an impressive highlights reel for when he calls time on his career. The Tigers will be pleased they're facing the Roosters without Tedesco and Cordnor, but it's still the Roosters. There is also some chance Luke Keary returns this weekend, allowing Mitchell to return to his natural habitat in the centres. While the Chooks haven't been at their best in recent weeks they're still competitive, and a narrow loss to the Storm shows how competitive they are. Beyond that, I can't forget when these sides met in round eight, and the Roosters racked up 42 points. Mitchell scored 26 of those points – the NRL will be a better competition if we can find that version of Mitchell again.
Verdict – Roosters by 8
Result – Roosters 24 defeated Tigers 16
Newcastle Knights vs New Zealand Warriors – Saturday night – McDonald Jones Stadium
As a fan of the game I am frustrated by the New Zealand Warriors, so I can barely imagine how difficult it is to be a Warriors fan. A depleted Panthers ran them down last start, so depleted that they were down to 11 players on the field for a period. Seriously...if the Warriors were your girlfriend you'd hope your mates would pull you aside and let you know you deserve better. The Knights will be without Ponga, Saifiti and Glasby...but I don't care – the Warriors are dead to me.
Verdict – Knights by 4
Result – Warriors 24 defeated Knights 20
Cronulla Sharks vs Brisbane Broncos – Sunday afternoon – PointsBet Stadium
The three Queensland teams are going so badly they are below the Warriors on the ladder. Broncos captain Darius Boyd was shifted into the halves last weekend in an effort to inject him into the game. It was an entirely sensible move, except that Boyd found a way to be involved even less than he usually is. I think Milford is a better player at fullback than in the halves, but the Broncos simply don't have the options available for that to happen. There are suggestions that Boyd is on the verge of being shunted to the QLD Cup, an extraordinary demotion for the captain of a team full of youngsters. Someone at the Broncos needs to put their hand up for some leadership responsibility, but who? It may have to be McCullough – I doubt he wants to but what choice does he have? Despite their woeful form the Broncos still lose four players to Origin duty, while the only Shark missing is Wade Graham, and he's been missing for much of the season anyway. A surprise loss by the Sharks last start against the team running last, but they'll be cranky all week and keen to make amends at home.
Verdict – Sharks by 8
Result – Broncos 24 defeated Sharks 22
Wally Lewis - round sixteen selections (in bold)
Note: tips from Wally will be published on Wednesday night or Thursday morning
- Dragons vs STORM
- Tigers vs ROOSTERS
- KNIGHTS vs Warriors
- SHARKS vs Broncos