Round 16 in the NRL kicks off at 7:50pm on Thursday night, with the Manly Sea Eagles (10th) hosting the Melbourne Storm (2nd) at 4 Pines Park. The Storm have it in cruise control at this point of the season, and beat Manly convincingly (28-8) just a month ago. Manly are far too strong for the teams below them on the ladder, but have not beat a single team above them on the ladder this season. Essentially, without a fit Tom Trbojevic they are a shadow of their 2021 selves, despite being an otherwise strong team.

Draftstars has a $15,000 contest with $1133 to first place. There are also several other contests including the Mini, Micro, and the High Roller. 

Team News

After the week off, Manly have one change with Taniela Paseka replacing Josh Aloaia in the team. Paseka is on the bench with Sean Keppie promoted to start at prop. Daly Cherry-Evans and Jake Trbojevic are the two Origin reps backing up, while a number of players played in the other rep matches over the weekend.

The Storm have two changes, with Felise Kaufusi and Trent Loiero both out. Tom Eisenhuth and Jayden Nikorima join the bench. Chris Lewis is promoted to start in the second row. There is also a prop reshuffle with Josh King named to start and Tui Kamikamica dropping back to the bench. Ryan Papenhuyzen is in the reserves and could strengthen the Storm backline by forcing Nick Meaney back to a wing.

Betting Odds

Eagles $3.25 v Storm $1.35  - Bet now at Ladbrokes!


If Papenhuyzen does indeed come back in, the odds on the Storm might be generous. As it is, it seems about right given that Manly have not been able to topple the better teams this season. Having said that, it’s still a strong Manly team and the Storm have backups playing in a handful of positions. Even with their legendary depth and adaptability, that has to open the door just a little for Manly to cause an upset. 

Love It - Chris Lewis $9000

A starting second rower at minimum price never requires much thought, but it helps that Chris Lewis has posted a 40+ point average in his couple of previous starts at the position. It’s a small sample size, but it makes sense that he should be able to score at a similar rate to the man he’s replacing, Felise Kaufusi. As long as he is in still in that position at kickoff, he’s an easy choice as the best value play on the slate.

Love It - Harry Grant $19,590

Grant is one of a number of Origin players backing up in this one, but he’s in a better spot than most having played 48 minutes on Sunday night. He should fine to back up, and with Cam Munster under an injury cloud he might be the most important player for the Storm. Even without that, he’s at a nice price for a 60+ averaging player. With Jayden Nikorima not he bench as cover, I doubt that he loses many minutes at all unless the game gets out of hand for either team. That makes Grant my favourite pay up option with Cherry-Evans and Munster both with similar scoring potential, also backing up from Origin, and far more expensive.

Love It - Justin Olam $12,950

Olam was excellent for PNG in an upset victory over Fiji on the weekend, and has been strong all season for the Storm. There are plenty of interesting OB plays, especially on the Storm side, but Olam is the best combination of reliably strong scoring and good value at his price. Reuben Garrick is the only player we can project for more points, but the huge price gap (5K+) makes it hard to pay up for the fullback on the underdog team.

Hate It - Josh King $13,860

King has been good this season, but more so in real life than fantasy. He started strong with a couple of 50+ scores in the first month, but has settled into a sub 40 average since then with not much ceiling to speak of. He’s a plodder, essentially. While being moved back into the starting team is a positive, he’s still too expensive for a guy that is unlikely to give us much more than 40. He’ll see less minutes at prop than he did at lock, and is reasonable likely to end up back not he bench in a swap with Asofa-Solomona or Kamikamica before kickoff. Much better options out there.

Hate It - Lachlan Croker $16,880

Croker is actually in career best form, including his best ever score in the last game. That has come not he back of a string of big minute games with Manly deciding he no longer needs a backup as he continues to grow into the hooker role. That’s really nice, but I’d still say his general ceiling is around 60 points and his price is starting to get a bit rich for me. I’d expect his scoring to normalise a little in a tough game like this, and there are too many other strong plays at the HH position to waste a roster spot on a middling player like Croker.

Who Knows - Grant Anderson $9930

I can’t find any info on how old Anderson is, but he burst onto the scene two weeks ago with a double for the Storm and 49 points. He didn’t do much in game 2, but he’s done enough to show that he can have a big week on the end of a dominant Storm backline. Teammate Ieremia has also popped the last couple of weeks, but has a longer history of poor scoring. If Anderson can become the beneficiary of a big Storm win, he could be a nice salary saver to fit in some of the Storm big guns.

Draftstars Suggested Team

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