Well, where do we begin?
It doesn’t get any bigger than this to open round 14.
The Sharks enter round 14 off the back of a bye, with their Origin representatives getting plenty of rest coming into the clash with their arch-rivals.
The Storm, meanwhile, carved up the Knights quite easily last week, priming themselves for a crack at overturning a recently rough run of results against the reigning premiers.
Let’s start at the back and work our way up.
Billy Slater against Valentine Holmes is a mouth-watering matchup in itself, with the two Queenslanders vying for a berth in the upcoming Maroons squad as both are in exceptional offensive and defensive form.
The battle of the halves – as in any game – will be a key with Origin counterparts James Maloney and Cooper Cronk matching up. The Sharks have successfully nullified Cronk’s impact in recent meetings and will look to do so again this week.
The battle of the forwards will where the game will be won, with both packs in excellent form in 2017.
Andrew Fifita is arguably the best in the game along with Jesse Bromwich, who made a solid return last week following suspension. Cameron Smith’s apparent sternum injury won’t keep him out of Thursday’s clash as he prepares to renew hostilities with Paul Gallen while in-form duo Felise Kaufusi and Tohu Harris come up against the battle-hardened pair of Luke Lewis and Wade Graham.
It’s been Cronulla physically imposing defence that has caused issues for the well-organised Storm in recent times, winning three of their past four encounters, however, the Storm are a different side with Billy Slater, and particularly the form that he is in.
The Storm are 6-0 away from home in 2017 and while the Sharks have a poor home record, both of those stats will count for little.
The bookies can’t split them, and neither can we.
90-minute draw, anyone?
Sharks by 2.
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