Rugby league is set for one of its biggest weekends of the year, with Magic Round taking place in the River City of Brisbane.
With eight games set to occur across three days at Suncorp Stadium, Smith and Kemp previewed the entire weekend, with Saturday’s three games highly anticipated among league fans.
The pair discussed the first two clashes on SEN 1170 The Captain’s Run.
New Zealand Warriors v South Sydney Rabbitohs
Saturday afternoon – Magic Round – Suncorp Stadium
Kemp: “Talk about an important game for two clubs that are desperate for a turnaround.”
Smith: “They’re battling to stay in and around the eighth spot, the Rabbitohs are ninth and the Warriors tenth. They have to find some consistency these teams.
“They’ve both shown us some entertaining, exciting football, but outside of that it’s been no good.”
Kemp: “For a few weeks, the Warriors exceeded my expectations, but then recently they’ve played under them, it’s such a rollercoaster with them.
“The Rabbitohs, the scary thing is, this could get ugly. What I mean by that is because they were in a Grand Final and they’re such a big club, the headlines will come, and the pressure will build.
“If they want to stop that – we know the drill – they just need to win.”
Smith: “There’s no reason they can’t they’ve got the list to do it. They just need to put a few more consistent performances together.”
Kemp: “For the Warriors, Tohu Harris returns, he is so important to them, he is heart and soul and will make a difference.”
Smith: “A huge game for both clubs.”
Gold Coast Titans v St George Illawarra Dragons
Saturday evening – Magic Round – Suncorp Stadium
Smith: “I like the Titans in this one, purely because of Jayden Campbell being back.
“They looked so dangerous when he was at fullback, that aligned with AJ Brimson being at six.
“He spoke about how excited he was playing in the halves, he was so keen to get in there, there have been so many changes to their line-up.
“I think the Titans, to get their season back on track, need to win this one, but I think they’re good enough to beat the Dragons.
“They (St George Illawarra) have found some form in their own right, they just didn’t have the ability to stay with Melbourne.”
Kemp: “I’m backing the Dragons this week … I think they’ll be wanting to bounce back from last week.
“I think their gritty nature could upset the Titans a little bit, but it’s going to be a cracking game.
“It’s close to a 50-50 game for me.”
Melbourne Storm v Penrith Panthers
Saturday night – Magic Round – Suncorp Stadium
Smith: “It’s so disappointing for the occasion that Ryan Papenhuyzen has been sidelined with an injury.
“It’s a big out for Melbourne, but what they do better than any other side in the competition is to fill a void of those that go out with injury.
“Nick Meaney goes to full back, but Reimis Smith has been taken out of the side, Marion Seve comes in … I don’t think too much changes for Melbourne, they’ll still run their same set plays and sequences.
“For Penrith, I think they’ll be stinging off last week’s result, no one more than Nathan Cleary.
“One of the strongest parts of his game is his goalkicking … to go down by two points, it’s not a great feeling as a goalkicker if you miss a couple of goals.
“They will be relishing the opportunity to come out and play some of their best footy. This is such a good game, I cannot wait.”
Kemp: “I think that the level of footy that we’re going to see will be leaps and bounds (ahead of the rest).
“This will almost be the same distance between Origin to club footy – I’m not saying it’ll have the same as Origin - but a similar intensity.
“I just like the Storm, they have red-hot form, and they might pip them.
“The Panthers haven’t found their best form over the last couple of weeks, they may just get pipped.”
Smith: “I’m going to tip Melbourne, the thing that might shock a few people – I think they might put a bit of a gap on Penrith.
“I’m not saying they’re a better side than Penrith this year, they’re equal first.
“I agree with you on the fact that they’re taking a lot more momentum into this game, even with Papenhuyzen missing.
“There’s an opportunity for Melbourne to put some points on Penrith this week.”