Round 17 in the NRL is our second bye week and Origin build up, so is heavily compromised with 4 single game slates over the four day. We start on Thursday night at 7:50pm with the Cronulla Sharks (4th) hosting the Melbourne Storm (2nd) at PointsBet Stadium. It’s a shame that a top 4 clash like this comes with some of the best players on Origin duty, but it should be a cracker regardless.

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

The Sharks actually only have one change, with Sifa Talakai in the Blues team again and replaced at left centre by Connor Tracey. It’s hard to knock anything about the teams balance right now, with the management of the Finucane/McInness and Graham/Wilton rotations the main decision point as the veterans get the starting roles but continue to manage frequent injury issues.

There are two changes for the Storm, with Harry Grant the only Origin player who was on the field last week. Cam Munster and Felise Kaufusi are both prevented from coming back in by Origin duty though. Jayden Nikorima is the other out, after being totally exposed in defence last week. Nick Meaney shifts into his spot in the halves, with Dean Ieremia moving from the bench to the wing to complete that reshuffle. Brandon Smith moves into Grant’s hooker role, with Josh King promoted to lock and Tyrone Wishart and Jordan Grant both joining the team on the bench. Nelson Asofa-Solomona and Tui Kamikamica have switched places, with NAS starting at prop and Kamikamica on the bench.

Betting Odds

Sharks $1.95 v Storm $1.85  - Bet now at Ladbrokes!


The Storm are slight favourites for this one, but I have the Sharks well ahead. Other than Talakai, this is literally a full-strength team, and Tracey is a pretty handy replacement (I’d also argue Lachie Miller should be at fullback, but alas the coaches don’t agree just yet). Meanwhile, the Storm are missing up to 8 players that they would have had in their best 17 at the start of the season. Despite being a club that can get the best out of their depth players, this seems a stretch too far. All of Ieremia, Anderson, Meaney, Lewis, King, and most of the bench are fringe first-graders (at best) and I think the Sharks should come in with a big advantage as a result.

Love It- Jesse Ramien $15,030

Ramien is not having his best season, averaging 43 after being around the 50 mark in a ridiculous 2021. Part of that is down to injury and suspension, while perhaps a larger share is down to the domination of Talakai not he left side starving him of some possession. That problem goes away tonight, although the Sharks will still be happy to go left with Tracey/Mulitalo there and a questionable Storm right edge defensively. Still, Ramien is very cheap for a high 40’s scorer with a 65+ ceiling. His form is bubbling along, and I think he can overcome the Olam matchup and be a strong value on this slate.

Love It- Chris Lewis $10,500

I touted Lewis last week in his third career start in the second row, and we only got 34 points. The good news is, that seems to be his floor, with only 36 tackles and a few run metres to show for his efforts. At this price, his floor is still value, and his ceiling is strong with a 60+ score in his first start in 2020. Again, the sample size is small, but starting second rowers rarely disappoint at this type of price tag, and a weak bench only helps his cause.

Love It- Tui Kamikamica $11,460

I’m going to highlight another Storm forward, because the bench lacks strength and I think the Kamikamica/Asofa-Solomona combination will have a big role to play if the Storm are to keep up with a solid Sharks forward pack. I’m not sure which one will start, but either way the cheaper Kamikamica looks to be a solid value play with good upside. He was limited to 18 points last weeks, but before that put together a 5 week run with a 43 average in his first games of the season. Again, I don’t mind him coming off the bench, and in fact might enjoy the reduced ownership if he does so. If he’s in the mood he can score quickly no matter how many minutes he is given.

Hate It - Old Forwards

There are a lot of forwards on the wrong side of 30 on the field for this one, and a few of them have me worried. The Storms main culprit is Jesse Bromwich, but he can be depended on for a score in the 30-40 range and is usable as a salary saver. The Sharks quarter of Graham, Finucane, Tolman and Fifita are of more concern. Graham and Finucane are sharing roles and losing out on upside, as well as never being far away from an injury. Fincuane’s price is almost an easy pass, while Graham is more tempting, but possibly a trap. The bench duo of Tolman & Fifita are both on their last legs and playing the smallest roles in the 17, so I don’t want to use much of either of them despite reasonable price tags.

Hate It- Nick Meaney $12,760

You’d think a move from the wing to the halves would be a boost, but I don’t see Meaney scoring any better there. He’s done okay collecting tries on the end of the Storm backline this season, and was solid at fullback. But with Papenhuyzen demanding a lot of ball and Hughes doing all the playmaking, I expect Meaney to go missing to a degree in this role. If I’m right about the Sharks getting on top in this game, I don’t see many avenues to a slate-winning score for Meaney, especially with the HH position featuring several strong scorers.

Who Knows- Brandon Smith $12,650

One of the HH standouts is Smith, who should get a little boost from moving back into the hooker role. However, it’s been a mighty drop-off this season for the nuggety utility, averaging just 33 after going at 50+ last season. So while his history suggests he can go at 50 in this role, I’m reluctant to project him for anything more than about 40. Last week’s 52 points was encouraging, but it still required a try. He should be a solid play, but may not be a must-have with Hynes, Hughes, Moylan and even Brailey all poised to be solid options at the position.

Draftstars Suggested Team

Always remember to gamble responsibly. When the fun stops, stop. If gambling is having a negative impact on your life, seek support at Gambling Help Online.  18+ only.