Immortal Andrew Johns has written off the Roosters’ chances of keeping their incredible late season run going when they meet the Storm on Friday night, despite the fact that Craig Bellamy is dealing with some big name casualties.
Star halfback Jahrome Hughes was on Thursday night ruled out of the blockbuster semi-final clash at AAMI Park, with Tyran Wishart coming into the side for the biggest game of his career.
Yet so dire is the Roosters’ injury toll, Johns expects the Storm to notch a comfortable win, targeting the makeshift backline forced on coach Trent Robinson.
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Robinson has named Paul Momirovski and Corey Allan in the centres but Johns predicted damaging young second rower Siua Wong might end up sliding out into the centres.
“If there’s one team that can exploit a weakness it’s the Storm,” Johns said on Wide World of Sports’ Freddy and The Eighth’s Tips.
While the make-up of the Roosters backline has a liquorice all sorts feel, the Storm have also made changes to their three quarter line, thanks in part to an injury to Young Tonumaipea. A starting centre in last week’s qualifying final loss to the Broncos, Tonumaipea joins injured winger Xavier Coates on the sideline for Friday night’s clash, with the out of favour Justin Olam (centre) and Reimis Smith (wing) returned to the side.
Those changes, although forced, will strengthen the Storm’s backline according to Johns, who was miffed by their absence against the Broncos.
“We don’t know what’s going on inside but from the outside looking in Olam and Reimis would be the centres who you’d pick in the team,” Johns said, looking to Fittler, who replied, “For sure.”
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Johns added that he expected Harry Grant, who has come in for plenty of criticism over his performance against the Broncos, would have a much improved performance against the Roosters, cautioning that he could only be at his best if his middle forwards lifted.
“He wasn’t allowed to play (against the Broncos) because their forwards got smashed out of the park,” Johns said.
Scroll below for the current leaderboard and week two finals tips by all Nine’s expert tipsters!
Brad Fittler: Storm, Knights
Andrew Johns: Storm, Knights
Darren Lockyer: Roosters, Warriors
Paul Gallen: Storm, Knights
Billy Slater: Storm, Knights
Allana Ferguson: Storm, Warriors
Wally Lewis: Storm, Warriors
James Bracey: Storm, Warriors
Danika Mason: Storm, Warriors
Mat Thompson: Roosters, Knights
Peter Psaltis: Storm, Knights
David Middleton: Storm, Knights
The Mole: Storm, Warriors
Ben Glover: Storm, Warriors