Eels v Storm - Five things

The Parramatta Eels travel to Brisbane for Round 9 of the NRL, to take on the Melbourne Storm in the inaugural Magic Round at Suncorp Stadium.

It’s an especially big game for Blake Ferguson, who plays his 200th NRL game.

Here are five things you need to know about the clash. 

Magic Round

Thursday marks the start of the first Magic Round played in NRL history. All 16 teams will play in the one location at Suncorp Stadium, in eight games across four days. The idea came from the English Super League, which has been running an annual Magic Weekend since 2007.

300 NRL players will descend on Brisbane.

The State Government is predicting 150,000 footy fans will enjoy a weekend of footy watching.

The Parramatta Eels take on the Melbourne Storm midway through the round on Saturday night, after five games would have already been played on the surface.

Storm not at their best

The Melbourne Storm are coming off a disappointing loss to the Sharks, in what was a lacklustre performance.

But the Storm are a class outfit even when they struggle with form and have rarely lost two games in a row.

They sit 4th on the ladder, having won six and lost two games so far this season.

The Eels, on the other hand, are coming off a good come-from-behind win against the Dragons and are showing they’re a competitive side.

But they can’t be caught sleeping at the wheel early in the game for a third week in a row, or they will be punished.

Blake Ferguson’s 200th game

Eels winger Blake Ferguson will clock up his 200th NRL game when he lines up against the Storm on Saturday night.

The 29-year-old has ticked off plenty of achievements in the game, playing for the NSW Blues, Australia and The Indigenous All Stars as well as for the Cronulla Sharks, Canberra Raiders and Sydney Roosters before joining The Parramatta Eels this season.

The impressive winger has 106 tries under his belt.

In his tenth NRL season, Ferguson has so far this year average 179 run metres each game, four tries and three try assists.

Smith v Mahoney

It will be a serious clash of experience verses youth between the hookers on Saturday night.

NRL legend Cameron Smith is on track to make history and become the first player to make 400 games.

In stark contrast, 21-year-old Reed Mahoney has 17 NRL games under his belt, but is playing beyond his years and will be up for the challenge.

Tim Mannah returns for Eels 

Tim Mannah has been enjoying some of his best NRL form in recent years, making explosive metres and tackles off the bench.

But he spent last week on the sidelines after injuring his ankle in the Eels’ clash with the Knights in Round Seven.

After some rehab, he returned to training this week and is fit to face the Storm on Saturday night.

His return is the only change to the Eels’ 17.