Melbourne Storm prop Alex Chan will miss the Storm�s first two road trips of the 2004 Telstra Premiership, after today entering an early guilty plea for a grade one reckless high tackle on Dragons hooker Ryan Powell.
Chan was charged after taking Powell high in the 13th minute of last week�s 28-point win over the Dragons and has been replaced by young prop Antonio Kaufusi for Sunday�s round four NRL clash with the Brisbane Broncos at Suncorp Stadium.
Kaufusi is the second 19-year-old to come into the Storm side in two weeks, following the triumphant Melbourne debut of winger Steve Turner last week.
Coach Craig Bellamy knows the Storm will miss Chan�s presence against a fearful Brisbane forward pack but is hopeful Kaufusi � who at 190cm/108kg is the largest player on Melbourne�s roster � can step up.
�It�s disappointing to lose Chan but he did the crime so he�s got to do the time,� Bellamy said.
�He�s experience and his size would have been very handy against the Broncos but unfortunately he won�t be there so Kaufusi gets a chance, he deserves a chance and hopefully he�ll grab the opportunity with both hands.�
After making his first and only appearance for Melbourne against the Bulldogs in round 22 last year, Kaufusi believes he is ready to meet the demands of playing regular first grade football.
�Chances don�t come that often so I�ll certainly be looking to do my best and make an impression,� said Kaufusi, who will come off the bench this Sunday.
�I played against Brisbane in one of our trial matches earlier this year so I have a bit of an idea of what they�re like, which will hopefully help on the weekend.�
Melbourne has endured some memorable encounters with the Broncos in recent years, with last season�s heartbreaking loss in extra time the closest the Storm has come to beating Brisbane since the 2001 season.
After three narrow defeats in less than 12 months, Bellamy believes his young charges won�t be intimidated by the prospect of going toe-to-toe with the Broncos.
�We competed really well up there in Brisbane last year for 60 minutes, then got beaten in extra time down here and this year�s trial match was very close at 14-10.
�So when you look at our recent history there�s not too much between the two teams really.
�We�ve got to go up there and not worry about who we�re playing and I think after the success we had last year we�re not going to get overawed by too many teams this year including the Broncos.�
After picking up a try against the Dragons last Sunday, Dustin Cooper retains his place on the wing in favour of Fifita Moala this week, while back-rower Ryan Hoffman remains on the bench.
MELBOURNE STORM TEAM TO PLAY THE BRISBANE BRONCOS, SUNDAY APRIL 4, AT SUNCORP STADIUM (2.30PM):
1. Billy Slater 2. Steve Turner 3. Matt King 4. Ben MacDougall 5. Dustin Cooper 6. Scott Hill 7. Matt Orford 8. Robbie Kearns 9. Cameron Smith 10. Rodney Howe 11. Peter Robinson 12. Stephen Kearney (c) 13. David Kidwell 14. Danny Williams 15. Kirk Reynoldson 16. Antonio Kaufusi 17. Ryan Hoffman
IN: Antonio Kaufusi OUT: Alex Chan (suspended)
STORM TRAINING THIS WEEK: Tuesday: 2pm,Olympic Park Wednesday: 11am, Olympic Park Thursday: 3.30pm, Olympic Park Saturday: 10am, Olympic Park
For further information contact James Avery: Phone (03) 9421 3222 Mobile: 0411 623 024 [email protected]