The Warriors will get their first taste of life without star Roger Tuivasa-Sheck in their Anzac Day blockbuster against Melbourne.
A staple fixture on the NRL calendar for six consecutive seasons, the two clubs went separate ways last year but resume hostilities at AAMI Park as one of three NRL games on Monday.
Utility Tuimoala Lolohea has been handed the difficult task of filling the dancing boots of Tuivasa-Sheck, who is out for the remainder of the season after tearing his ACL.
It is the third different position in as many weeks for the versatile Lolohea, with veteran Thomas Leuluai preferred over Jeff Robson to partner Shaun Johnson in the halves.
The return of winger Manu Vatuvei is the only other change from the side that upset Canterbury at home last week, a win by the Warriors potentially lifting them into the top eight.
For the Storm, rookie Suliasi Vunivalu could consider himself unlucky to be omitted following his dream two tries on debut in last week’s one-point win over the Wests Tigers.
The towering Fijian makes way for the return of Young Tonumaipea, who has recovered from the calf injury that kept him out for a week.
“They’re testy things, calves,” coach Craig Bellamy said.
“Sometimes they can get over them pretty quickly and other times it takes a couple more weeks than what you thought.”
While Bellamy admitted the Warriors would miss Tuivasa-Sheck, he predicted they would get better as the season progresses, particularly around the form of Issac Luke.
“Obviously they’re going to miss Sheck a fair bit, and they’re all obviously disappointed at that, as they would be,” he said.
“But the longer the season goes on, the better the combination the forwards and halves are going to have with Luke.”
The Storm have already beaten the Warriors this year, topping them 21-14 in Auckland in round three.
STATS THAT MATTER
* Six of Melbourne’s seven matches this year have been decided by eight points or less, including three by four points or less.
* Melbourne is the only team this season yet to concede 20 points. In contrast, the Warriors have conceded at least 18 points in all seven matches.
* Storm skipper Cameron Smith requires just six goals to pass Graham Eadie into sixth position on the all-time goalscorers list.