James Tedesco and Cameron Munster could have easily been travelling back from Suncorp Stadium for this weekend’s match at AAMI Park, but for differing reasons they are both yet to play State of Origin.
Tedesco, who has been arguably the form fullback of the competition, suffered a shoulder injury in Round 9 which subsequently sidelined him in the lead-up to Game I.
On the other hand, Munster has been in excellent form for the Storm but was ruled ineligible for Queensland after breaking curfew at an Emerging Maroons camp in February.
It remains to be seen if Tedesco will line-up in Game III for the Blues, with Queensland already securing the trophy which may result in a reshuffle of Laurie Daley’s side.
One thing is for certain, the battle of the fullbacks at AAMI Park this weekend is set to be an exciting showdown between two of the game’s best players this season.
Tedesco has scored an amazing 10 tries in just 11 matches, while Munster has 12 line-breaks to his name from 13 games.
The Round 16 encounter isn’t short of quality match-ups - with Bromwich v Woods, Brooks v Cronk and Nofoaluma v Vunivalu just to name a few – however it’s battle of the men at the back which will have the most impact on this match.
Tedesco and Munster have gone head-to-head just twice previously, with the pair taking one win a piece.
The Wests Tigers’ fullback scored a double in their first encounter, leading his side to a 34-16 victory at Leichhardt Oval in 2015.
Munster got one back on his opposite early this year at the same ground, playing a key role in his side’s extra-time 19-18 win.
Back where it all started…
Tedesco scored his first ever NRL try against Melbourne in 2013, crossing for a four-pointer in the Round 5 match at AAMI Park.
Since that match, which was his third NRL game, the Camden Rams junior has gone on to score another 40 tries in 60 matches.
Perhaps the most impressive stat of all for Munster is his 2247 metres in 13 games, ranking him third overall in the competition behind forwards James Graham and Jason Taumalolo.
The Rockhampton product isn’t afraid to take on the line, making the second most runs in the competition with a whopping 248 (19 per game).
After missing last weekend’s match against St George Illawarra, there are rumours that Munster still hasn’t trained with the Storm all week.
The 21-year-old has an ankle injury, while five-eighth Blake Green is in a similar predicament with a calf complaint that saw him also ruled out of the Dragons game.
If Munster is ruled out, expect Young Tonumaipea to cover at fullback in what will be a huge loss for the home side.
What he said…
“They (Wests Tigers) have been in good form,” Melbourne Coach Craig Bellamy said. “Which is probably what we have expected of them all year, they are a really talented team.
“They have some really big forwards that run really hard, and some really talented backs – obviously (James) Tedesco and their halves get a lot of attention because of their ability and they are very talented; but they’ve got some other good outside backs in Nofoaluma, Naiqama and Simona,” he said.