Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy has returned fire over tackling techniques, hitting out at an incident he fears could rub fullback Billy Slater out of Sunday's NRL grand final.
Slater, who has a knee injury, and in-form front-rower Ben Cross, who has a hamstring problem, failed to complete training yesterday in the Storm's first field session since Sunday's preliminary final win over Parramatta.
While he is concerned at Slater's slower than expected progress, Bellamy is fuming at just how the injury occurred. He claims a PJ Marsh leg pull before halftime in which Slater had his leg twisted caused the fullback's medial ligament strain.
Bellamy says he would have been happy to let the incident slide, but has spoken out after the Eels maintained their attack on a Brett White `ripper' tackle.
Parramatta star Eric Grothe's representative career is dangling by a thread after the erratic winger again failed to turn up to a team session.
Grothe's second rep football no-show in two years has prompted a stinging rebuke from Test coach Ricky Stuart and left Eels officials and his management also wondering where he was.
The 27-year-old has failed to appear at the Australian train-on squad's gathering at the Sydney Football Stadium.
Last year, he infamously slept in and turned up two hours late to a team medical after he was selected to play for City. Stuart says while he remains Test coach, Grothe will not be in his plans.
Meanwhile, Sea Eagles halfback Orford and his Storm opposite Cronk are prime candidates to fill the jersey in next month's Test match against New Zealand, with incumbent Johnathan Thurston to undergo surgery on his injured shoulders.
Stuart says there will be a changing of the guard in several positions when the Australian side is announced on Monday, a day following Sunday's Telstra Stadium grand final.