David Skipwith is the Herald's rugby league reporter

Rugby League: Anzac clash with Storm a Kiwis audition for Matulino

Ben Matulino produced an impressive performance last weekend. Photo / Getty Images
Ben Matulino produced an impressive performance last weekend. Photo / Getty Images

Ben Matulino is wary of the threat posed by fellow Kiwis prop Jesse Bromwich as the Warriors attempt to beat the Storm in Melbourne tomorrow.

Matulino rates Bromwich "the best prop around" and says he and his fellow Warriors forwards are looking forward to taking him on.

And beyond the immediate goal of two NRL competition points, the Anzac Day showdown is also a chance for Matulino to stake his claim for a starting spot in the Kiwis team to play Australia next month.

Both players featured in New Zealand's 2-1 series loss in England last November but Matulino was restricted to the interchange bench, with Bromwich a fixture in coach Stephen Kearney's starting line-up along with Roosters prop Sam Moa.

Matulino also started from the bench when the pair met in the Warriors' narrow 21-14 round three defeat to Melbourne at Mt Smart but is back in the starting side for the AAMI Park match as he eyes a chance to get one over his rival.

"I'm not thinking too much about the test coming up, I'm just looking to try and match it with Jesse," said Matulino.

"Last time we played them, he got into his work pretty early. He's definitely the best prop around and it's always good testing yourself against him.

"I know that Sammy [Lisone] and some of the other boys are looking forward to clashing heads with him. He's a quality player and we're going to have to do our best to try and contain him."

Bromwich has been a standout performer for the Storm this season and led the way in last Sunday's 19-18 golden point win over Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval. The 26-year-old topped the yardage with a remarkable 222m from 19 runs, while he also got through 36 tackles and produced three offloads in a quality 67-minute contribution.

After a below-par effort in the round six loss to Manly, Matulino was also back to his best last Saturday as the Warriors forwards dominated the highly-rated Bulldogs pack in an impressive 24-20 win in Wellington. He played just 45 minutes as part of a dynamic forward rotation, but powered through 118m from 12 runs and made 16 tackles.

Despite not winning their last meeting with the Storm, the Warriors produced one of their best displays of the season. Errors have plagued them throughout the opening seven rounds but they minimised their mistakes to complete at 89 per cent, before a Cooper Cronk field goal and late Marika Koroibete try sealed the result for the visitors.

"We certainly thought we played pretty well against them and the score didn't really reflect how the game went," said Matulino.

"It was just that try at the end that pushed the score out a little bit but we were definitely in there for the majority of the game.

"For us, it's just errors coming out of our own end that's shooting us in the foot. If we can fix up that, we'll go a lot better."

The Storm have copped criticism for some patchy form of their own but are still sitting in fifth spot on the NRL ladder with five wins and two losses.

Matulino is wary of the Storm finding their mojo and says the Warriors attack will need to be on song to find a way through the hosts' gritty defence.

"I don't think we've seen the best of the Storm this season. Playing them a few weeks ago, they said their defence won them the game and that their attack isn't on par at the moment.

"To beat the Storm, you have to come up with a lot of good attacking plays and that's how we'll have to do it, with offloads, that's what might get them."

- Herald on Sunday

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