Melbourne Storm will be looking to maintain its perfect winning record against the Rabbitohs when the two teams meet at Aussie Stadium this Sunday (2.30pm).
The Storm has never been defeated by Souths and despite the difference in standings on the NRL ladder, Melbourne centre Steven Bell says the visitors won�t be underestimating the Rabbitohs.
�Taking Souths lightly would definitely be an easy mindset to fall into,� Bell explained.
�But they have shown at various stages this year that they have gone close to winning more games than their record would suggest - even against some of the better sides.�
Last year the Storm thumped the Bunnies 44-6 at Olympic Park and this weekend�s clash will be just the second time these two clubs have played in Sydney and the fourth clash overall.
�If you don�t play the full 80 minutes in a match like this you could quite easily find yourself walking away with a loss so we can�t afford to let our guard down this week,� Bell added.
The former Storm Rookie of the Year was back to his efficient best in Melbourne�s loss to the Roosters last week, bagging another double to take his season total to seven tries from as many games.
But it is Bell�s teammates in the forwards that will be required to step up this week as veteran prop Robbie Kearns has been ruled out due to State of Origin commitments.
��Kearnsey� has been exceptional for us this year taking hitup after hitup and he thoroughly deserves to be in the NSW Origin side,� Bell said.
�Without him though a few of our other younger forwards are going to have to step up but I�ve no doubt they will be up to the task.�
Bearded prop Kirk Reynoldson has been named as Kearns� starting replacement and young utility Dallas Johnson has been recalled into the starting lock position.
Johnson was a late omission from last week�s match to make way for Kiwi prop Robert Tanielu.
After overcoming a severe neck injury to make his Storm debut last week, 20-year-old Tanielu has been squeezed out of the side as Ryan Hoffman reclaims his place on the bench.
In other news:
Melbourne Storm has joined forces with Australia�s number one Telstra mobile phone dealer Crazy John�s for the 2003 and 2004 NRL Premiership seasons. Crazy John's will become the official back of shorts sponsor of Melbourne Storm for the next two-years in a substantial six figure deal.
This new partnership adds considerable value to the Storm�s official playing strip which was recently valued at $2 million following the renewal of the club�s naming rights partner Adecco through until the end of 2005. �This new partnership with Crazy John�s signals that major Victorian companies are quickly realising the strength of rugby league not only in Victoria, but in New South Wales and Queensland," Storm executive director John Ribot said. �Crazy John�s have been great supporters of AFL football in recent times but are now also aligned with the NRL and several NRL clubs in NSW and Victoria.
�They see it as the best way to build their company profile in these new markets. �This new partnership will also see great deals on mobile phones for Melbourne Storm members and corporate supporters�, Ribot added.
MELBOURNE STORM TEAM TO PLAY SOUTHS, THIS SUNDAY AT AUSSIE STADIUM, 2.30PM
1. Billy Slater 2. Matt Geyer 3. Steven Bell 4. David Kidwell 5. Marcus Bai 6. Scott Hill 7. Matt Orford 8. Kirk Reynoldson 9. Cameron Smith 10. Mitchell Sargent 11. Peter Robinson 12. Stephen Kearney (c) 13. Dallas Johnson BENCH: 14. Danny Williams 15. Ryan Hoffman 16. Semi Tadulala 17. G. Turner
STORM TRAINING THIS WEEK: Wednesday: 10am � Gosch�s Paddock Thursday: 1.30pm � Olympic Park Saturday: 9.30am � Olympic Park
For further information contact
James Avery: Phone (03) 9421 3222 Mobile: 0411 623 024 [email protected]