Inaugural Melbourne Storm winger Marcus Bai will play his last match in Melbourne this week when the Storm meets the Manly Sea Eagles in the final round of the Telstra Premiership.
With the Storm set to commence its finals campaign interstate next week and Bai taking up a lucrative deal with English Super League club Leeds in 2004, the PNG flyer will farewell the Melbourne faithful this Saturday night (7.30pm) when he lines up for his final match at Olympic Park.
In what has already been one of the biggest weeks of his like � Bai and wife Heidi celebrated the berth of a baby boy last Sunday � the 30-year-old says he is keen to make his last match in Melbourne a memorable one.
�It will be hard to run out for the last time and it�s a sad week for me but I think a win on Saturday would really send me off well,� Bai said.
�It is going to be sad because this is my last game in Melbourne and the closer it gets to the actual day the more I�ve been thinking about it.
�I�d be very satisfied with a win in my last home game because it is a special occasion and it would be a good way to say thankyou to the fans here at Olympic Park.�
Bai admits he was anxious as to the berth of his first child and is pleased to be able to concentrate on football again as the Storm gears up for its first finals appearance in two years.
�The thing I was looking forward to most was the berth of my son and obviously now I can totally focus on my game,� Bai explained.
�Now I can go back to square on which will hopefully work in my favour over the next few weeks.�
Bai�s current record of 141 matches is a record for the Storm and no other player has scored as many tries (67) for Melbourne since the club�s inception in 1998.
With this in mind it�s no wonder the Storm faithful hold Bai in such high regard � even going so far as to informally name a terraced section of Olympic Park the �Marcus Bai Stand�.
�I�ve never been in a football club where the fans are as close and things like the (Bai) stand and the way they have supported me has been great - I�m really going to miss the crowd because this place is like a second home to me,� he said.
Bai is quick to point out that this week�s match is vitally important if Melbourne is to hold down fifth spot on the NRL ladder as well as building some momentum before the finals begin.
�I�m treating this game as a must win, if we lose it�s going to be very hard to get through the finals,� Bai added.
�We have to play really here in Melbourne while we get the chance because all of our finals will all be away � we can�t drop off now because we�ve worked so hard throughout the year.�
Meanwhile Storm coach Craig Bellamy has made just one change to the side that defeated St George Illawarra two weeks ago.
MELBOURNE STORM TEAM TO PLAY MANLY, THIS SATURDAY AT OLYMPIC PARK, 7.30PM
1. Billy Slater 2. Fifita Moala 3. Steven Bell 4. David Kidwell 5. Marcus Bai 6. Matt Geyer 7. Matt Orford 8. Robbie Kearns 9. Cameron Smith 10. Kirk Reynoldson 11. Peter Robinson 12. Stephen Kearney (c) 13. Glen Turner Bench 14. Danny Williams 15. Ryan Hoffman 16. Nathan Friend 17. Mitchell Sargent OUT: Matt King
STORM TRAINING THIS WEEK Wednesday � 2pm, Olympic Park Friday � 5.30pm, Olympic Park