The chance to celebrate a Josh Papalii milestone will add extra incentive to a Canberra Raiders' history-making mission to Melbourne for the NRL relaunch on Saturday night.
The blockbusting Canberra front-rower has been picked to start in his 200th game as part of an unchanged Raiders side for the first game in more than two months.
Raiders coach Ricky Stuart has thrown his support behind the 17 men who beat the New Zealand Warriors on March 21, giving them a chance to make an impact when the competition resumes.
The Raiders will be aiming for three consecutive wins against the Storm for the first time in the club's history and targeting a hat-trick of wins to start a season for the first time since 2005.
Papalii's celebration is the icing on top of what already looms as a tense contest after the Raiders won two games in Melbourne last year. Prop Papalii is one of three Raiders who refused the flu vaccination, with the club yet to detail its plan for Papalii, Sia Soliola and Joe Tapine being available for games in Queensland later this season.
"Big Papa is a huge part of our team, he's obviously been at our club for a long, long time and he's really the rock of this team. I'm sure the boys will get up and put on a good performance for him," said winger Bailey Simonsson. "He's a special player and a really great person, so I hope we can get the result for him."
Stuart has named an unchanged squad from the one which beat the New Zealand Warriors on March 21, with Papalii to team up with Dunamis Lui in the starting front row.
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Jordan Rapana has been named on the extended bench after returning from his stint in Japanese rugby, with Simonsson holding on to his place on the left wing for a clash against try-scoring machine Suliasi Vunivalu.
Rapana, Matt Frawley, Kai O'Donnell and Tom Starling have been added to the 17 men who beat the Warriors, with the Raiders to fly to Melbourne on game day and return to Canberra on Saturday night.
Sia Soliola and Michael Oldfield are on the bench, while Corey Horsburgh has retained his spot in the starting forward pack and George Williams will play his third game at halfback.
Five-eighth Jack Wighton was expecting a Storm backlash after the Raiders won the finals battle between the teams last year as well as upsetting Melbourne in Melbourne during the regular season.
"We always have confidence in ourselves, but we know it's going to be the toughest one out of all of them," Wighton said.
"The Storm out of every team don't want to lose three games in a row to a team at all. So they're going to come out firing, they've got a class team. We're really going to take this one seriously because it will be one of the tougher games."
The Raiders won their first two games against the Gold Coast Titans and the Warriors before the season was stopped because of coronavirus concerns.
They haven't won three games in a row to start a season in the past 15 years, but Wighton was confident the side could start in the same form they finished in.
"[The first two games] don't mean nothing at all. It's going to be a week-to-week set up, we know we're coming into different comp. We've got a tough run so we'll put those behind us and go from there," Wighton said.
The Raiders will spend the next eight weeks on the road before hopefully returning to Canberra Stadium in round 11. The NRL has so far denied Canberra's requests to play in the capital because of biosecurity measures.
It means they will travel to games on the morning of the match and return to Canberra later that night.
"It's definitely going to be one that we have to adjust to," Wighton said. "We've got to praise the NRL to be back up and running, so we can't whinge too much.
"It will be a challenge travelling every single week but we'll address it as it comes ... it would be cracking [to get back home] and hopefully we can get our Canberra fans back."
NRL ROUND THREE
Saturday: Melbourne Storm v Canberra Raiders in Melbourne, 7.30pm.
Raiders team: 1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, 2. Bailey Simonsson, 3. Jarrod Croker, 4. Curtis Scott, 5. Nick Cotric, 6. Jack Wighton, 7. George Williams, 8. Josh Papalii, 9. Josh Hodgson, 10. Dunamis Lui, 11. Joe Tapine, 12. Elliott Whitehead, 13. Corey Horsburgh. Interchange from: 14. Siliva Havili, 15. Emre Guler, 16. Sia Soliola, 17. Michael Oldfield, 18. Jordan Rapana, 19. Matt Frawley, 20. Kai O'Donnell, 21. Tom Starling.