Melbourne Storm will continue to build on its rivalry with the Canberra Raiders two weeks prior to the start of the National Rugby League�s 2004 season, in the second of two pre-season trial matches early next year.
After encountering the Raiders on three occasions this year, including a memorable 12-point qualifying final win in Canberra, the Storm will play the �Green Machine� at Eric Weissel Oval in Wagga, on Saturday February 28.
This match will be played a week after the Storm kicks off its pre-season trial match program against the Brisbane Broncos in Toowoomba on Saturday February 21.
Both matches will provide Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy with the perfect opportunity to blood some new faces before the start of the NRL regular season as well as reintroduce those players that were on the long-term injured list for much of 2003.
The Storm was pitted against Canberra more than any other side this season and a fierce rivalry emerged as the two teams locked horns three times, twice in the national capital and once at Olympic Park in Melbourne.
The first encounter saw the Storm end Canberra�s nine game winning streak at the start of the season before Melbourne defeated the Raiders twice more at Canberra Stadium.
Melbourne�s qualifying final victory prompted Canberra coach Matthew Elliott to question the Storm�s tactics citing an alleged �grapple tackle� as the key to the Storm�s dominance.
Melbourne will also field a rookie side that will take on Queensland Cup side Redcliffe in Noosa on Saturday February 14. Last year in a similar match rookie sensation Billy Slater bagged five tries against a Victorian Rugby League representative side.
STORM PRE-SEASON TRIAL MATCHES