The Storm got back on track with a win over the Warriors and will look to pick up momentum against a struggling Titans outfit which has lost nine in a row.
A top-four finish will be the focus from Melbourne who face a tough run home with games against the Panthers, Broncos, Roosters and Eels after this weekend.
The Titans are out to restore pride after a horror season and if they are to rattle the Storm’s cage much will depend on David Fifita and Tino Fa’asuamaleaui laying a foundation for AJ Brimson and Jayden Campbell to work off.
A trip to AAMI Park is a daunting prospect at the best of times but for a team low on confidence and teetering towards a second wooden spoon in four years, it’s going to take a mighty effort to avoid a blowout.
Storm: Hooker Brandon Smith returns from suspension in a boost for Craig Bellamy but fullback Nick Meaney (shoulder/concussion) is out, replaced by Tyran Wishart. Winger David Nofoaluma has arrived on loan from Wests Tigers and slots straight in to the starting side with Grant Anderson shifting to center to replace Justin Olam, who has tested positive to COVID. Chris Lewis has been recalled on the bench and Xavier Coates is listed among the reserves as he nears a return from an ankle injury.
Titans: Jayden Campbell returns to the starting side at fullback after two games on the interchange so AJ Brimson goes to five-eighth, Tanah Boyd to halfback and Toby Sexton rested. Greg Marzhew is the new man on the bench.
Felise Kaufusi v Tino Fa’asuamaleaui: Two Maroons hardheads who leave nothing in the tank every time they take the field. Having spent time away in the USA with his ill father, Kaufusi has powered back with 97 tackles and 257 running meters in the past three matches. The big game specialist will continue to build for the finals and be ready to explode in September. Tino’s Titans won’t be there when the whips are cracking but the young skipper has done all he can to ensure they don’t collect the wooden spoon, running for 153 meters per match and busting 42 tackles so far this season.
The Storm lead the NRL for dummy half runs with 268, well clear of the Bulldogs in second place with 223. The 1-2 punch of Harry Grant and Brandon Smith out of dummy half has brought plenty of defensive lines undone in 2022 and they are reunited on Friday after Smith’s three-game suspension for contrary conduct.