One of the biggest question marks in the NRL right now is how to stop Tom Trbojevic.
The Melbourne Storm may have just answered the game's biggest query.
Tom Trbojevic was held to just 150 metres running as well as going try-less in their qualifying final loss to the reigning premiers.
He failed to continue his amazing season that leaves him one of this year's Dally M player of the year contenders.
The game plan from the Storm to stop Trbojevic had two elements.
The first was to rush up hard on the Manly full-back, to force him to pass the ball early and prevent him from finding space to run. This was fully executed by the Melbourne-based outfit causing less line breaks and curbing the overall impact he had on the game.
The second was to push the full-back into designated parts of the field. Almost ushering the playmaker into the least dangerous positions on the field. For the Storm, the closer to either wing Trbojevic was positioned the better. This enabled the sideline to act as a defender and make him have to cut infield, where Melbourne sat waiting for him. Again this tactic worked to perfection on Friday night.
Now, these measures simply lessened the Manly junior's impact on the game. He was still one of the Sea Eagles best players as per usual. But we have seen that when Tom Trbojevic is not firing, the whole team is at risk of being beaten, hence the need for the Storm to target the 24-year-old star.
This blueprint designed in Melbourne will likely be the rationale for the Sydney Roosters on Friday night. The Chooks will have to adopt similar tactics to again curb Manly's number one influence. The key man that may be unitised to target the tall back will be Victor Radley.
The Roosters lock forward is known for his aggression and his ability to rush the ball player and force the opposition back behind the advantage line. He might try and dart up on Trbojevic which should force him to either pass early or risk a heavy hit.
The Roosters will need to stop the try-scoring potential the full-back has if they are any chance of continuing their finals run.
Although teams will plan for Tommy Turbo, Manly will be ready to overcome any tactics thrown at them. Manly may use the full-back more out of dummy-half and look to catch the markers off-side and find gaps. This will quicken up their overall ruck speed and better their attack across the board.
Another way to fully utilise Trbojevic is to unleash his skills under the high ball. If he can shift to the edges and call for Daly Cherry-Evens to kick him the ball long and high. These kicking plays must get Turbo one-on-one in the air with a Roosters player which will increase the likelihood of a Manly try.
Manly hold all the cards, as stoping Tom Trbojevic is the hardest task in football and few have been able to achieve it.