David Skipwith is the Herald's rugby league reporter

NRL: Anzac Day rivalry returns to Melbourne

Tonight's Anzac clash between the Storm and the Warriors has extra relevance for Warriors captain Ryan Hoffman. Photo / Getty Images
Tonight's Anzac clash between the Storm and the Warriors has extra relevance for Warriors captain Ryan Hoffman. Photo / Getty Images

For Warriors coach Andrew McFadden, defence coach Justin Morgan, and captain Ryan Hoffman, tonight's Anzac Day clash against Melbourne Storm represents something of a return to the past.

McFadden finished his NRL playing career with a two-year stint at the Storm in 2003 and 2004, and tonight's game marks two years since his first victory as an NRL head coach, when the Warriors upset the Storm 16-10 in the last Anzac encounter between the sides in 2014.

The trip to Melbourne also has significance for Morgan, as he returns to the Victorian capital with the Warriors for the first time after serving as one of Storm coach Craig Bellamy's assistant coaches in 2014 and 2015.

But the game has extra relevance to Hoffman, after playing for Melbourne in all but one of the six Anzac Day fixtures between the two clubs since the inaugural 2009 match.

The 32-year-old back-rower was absent for the 2011 game, while playing in the UK Super League with Wigan, when the Warriors scored an 18-14 win.

He first opposed his former teammates when the Warriors went down 30-14 to the Storm on Easter Monday last year, in what was his 250th NRL game, but returns to AAMI Park for his first Anzac Day clash against his old club in his eighth outing as Warriors captain.

Tonight's game sees the Anzac rivalry between the clubs revisited, after the NRL deviated from tradition last season, when the Warriors hosted the Gold Coast Titans and the Storm played Manly, as five games were staged in cities around New Zealand and Australia to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings.

Adding to the occasion, the Michael Moore Trophy is also up for grabs, with the Storm looking to defend it after their 21-14 win at Mt Smart in round three.

"It's obviously an important day on its own, let alone playing a game of football, but I know that these contests with Melbourne, particularly at AAMI Park, has always been one that the players have really enjoyed," said McFadden.

"It's a great atmosphere and obviously we get great representation there as well.

"It's an exciting time and obviously it's a day that's important to remember as well. Overall it's a big occasion."

Anzac Day Storm v Warriors pre-game schedule:
8:35pm - AAMI Park blackout
8:38pm - Team announcement light show
8:40pm - Cultural performance
8:46pm - Lighting of commemorative flame
8:47pm - ANZAC Ceremony
Teams enter
The ode
Last post
Minute silence
National Anthems
9pm - Kick-off
Storm: Cameron Munster, Young Tonumaipea, Richard Kennar, Ben Hampton, Marika Koroibete, Blake Green, Cooper Cronk, Jesse Bromwich, Cameron Smith (c), Jordan McLean, Kevin Proctor, Tohu Harris, Dale Finucane.
Interchange: Kenneath Bromwich, Tim Glasby, Felise Kaufusi, Nelson Asofa-Solomona.

Warriors: Tuimoala Lolohea, David Fusitu'a, Blake Ayshford, Solomone Kata, Manu Vatuvei, Thomas Leuluai, Shaun Johnson, Sam Lisone, Issac Luke, Ben Matulino, Bodene Thompson, Ryan Hoffman (c), Simon Mannering.
Interchange: Jonathan Wright, Jacob Lillyman, Charlie Gubb, Ligi Sao.

- NZ Herald

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