The nib Newcastle Knights are back in action this weekend with a huge showdown with competition leaders, the Melbourne Storm..
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak in Sydney, the NRL has decided to relocate 12 clubs, including Newcastle, to isolated hubs in Queensland.
The Knights will train and reside on the Sunshine Coast for the next month, with Melbourne set to join them following the snap Victorian lockdown.
The game has now been relocated from AAMI Park to the Gold Coast as a result.
Both teams rested their troops over the bye round last week while the two teams also have Origin representatives returning for the match.
This is your Ultimate Guide to the Newcastle Knights Round 18 fixture with the Melbourne Storm, brought to you by Mine Super.
MELBOURNE STORM v NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS
Date: Saturday July 17, 2021
Venue: Cbus Super Stadium, Gold Coast
1. Nicho Hynes, 2. George Jennings, 3. Reimis Smith, 4. Justin Olam, 19. Dean Ieremia, 6. Cameron Munster, 7. Jahrome Hughes, 8. Jesse Bromwich, 9. Brandon Smith, 15. Tui Kamikamica, 11. Felise Kaufusi, 12. Kenneath Bromwich, 13. Dale Finucane. Interchange: 14. Aaron Booth, 16. Chris Lewis, 17. Aaron Pene, 22. Jordan Grant. 18th Man: 18. Isaac Lumelume.
Coach: Craig Bellamy
1. Kalyn Ponga, 2. Dominic Young, 3. Enari Tuala, 4. Kurt Mann, 5. Hymel Hunt, 6. Jake Clifford, 22. Phoenix Crossland, 8. Jacob Saifiti, 9. Jayden Brailey, 15. David Klemmer, 11. Tyson Frizell, 12. Lachlan Fitzgibbon, 13. Mitch Barnett. Interchange: 14. Connor Watson, 16. Josh King, 17. Brodie Jones, 18. Jack Johns. 18th Man: 20. Tex Hoy.
Coach: Adam O'Brien
LATE MAIL: Trent Loiero drops off the bench, with Jordan Grant taking his place. Isaac Lumelume is the 18th man.
Meanwhile, Daniel Saifiti has been ruled out for the Knights. David Klemmer takes his place in the starting side, while Jack Johns comes onto the bench.
Tex Hoy is the 18th man.
SQUAD UPDATE: There's been massive changes to both team sheets 24 hours out from kick off.
Josh Addo-Carr and Christian Welch have been rested for the Storm, allowing Dean Ieremia and Tui Kamikamica to take their respective places in the starting side.
Trent Loiero comes onto the bench, while Tepai Moeroa drops off the extended bench.
Meanwhile, Mitchell Pearce has been ruled out for the Knights.
Phoenix Crossland takes his place at halfback, while Simi Sasagi and Jirah Momoisea drop off the extended bench.
EARLIER: Knights Head Coach, Adam O'Brien, has named his 21-man squad for Saturday night's clash with Melbourne.
In positive news, O'Brien has named Tyson Frizell to return from a syndesmosis injury.
Frizell hasn't featured since Round 12 and will line-up to start in the second-row.
Daniel Saifiti has been named to start in the front-row after being ruled out of Origin's Game III.
Mitch Barnett shuffles to lock while there are no further changes to the team which beat North Queensland 38-0 a fortnight ago.
For the Storm, the side is unchanged from their last game against the Roosters in Round 16.
The Knights have enjoyed two straight wins before the bye with victories over the Warriors and the North Queensland Cowboys.
The huge 38-0 win over the Cowboys was a giant step in the right direction for Newcastle, who now sit level with eighth spot but sit in ninth on points differential.
However, the Knights recent form will be tested against the ladder leaders.
Melbourne have won 13 games in a row to sit first on the premiership ladder.
Their last three games have seen them score 154 points with big wins over the Warriors, Tigers and Roosters.
MOVING TO THE SUNSHINE COAST
FROM THE NRL: 'The ARL Commission has decided to relocate all NSW and ACT-based teams to South-East Queensland for one month to minimise risk of the season being impacted by Sydney's COVID-19 outbreak.
After lengthy ARL Commission meetings on Sunday, it was announced that the eight Sydney-based teams will join the Dragons, Knights, Raiders and Central Coast-based Warriors in shifting to dedicated hubs by Wednesday.
All Queensland-based clubs, along with the Melbourne Storm will continue to be based and play home games out of their current home cities.
Clubs will return to Sydney as soon as the Commission believes risk to the competition in NSW has subsided. It is possible the relocations could be longer than one month.'
The Newcastle Knights will be based at the Sunshine Coast for the next month with 41 players and staff making the move.
Kalyn Ponga v Nicho Hynes
Two electric fullbacks highlight our key match-up from this weekend's game.
Opposing number ones Kalyn Ponga and Nicho Hynes will return from their respective Origin camps for the game and will prove pivotal to both sides attack.
KP was back to his devastating best in the rout of the Cowboys scoring two tries, setting up two others and running for 212 metres.
The Knights will look to stop Hynes' running game with the fullback posting 14 try assists and 20 line-break assists so far this season.
The Knights will aim for three straight wins for the first time since Round 15 last season.
The result against the Cowboys was the biggest margin of victory for the Knights since Round 13 last year.
Newcastle don't hold a great record against the Storm having lost their last nine against Melbourne.
The last time the Knights won in Melbourne was back in 2015 with a 20-6 result.
Melbourne sit first in the NRL for attack with 584 points, while the Knights attack is back to its best posting 48 points in their past two games.