Melbourne Storm�s in-form forward pack has been bolstered ahead of this week�s clash with the Cronulla Sharks, following the return of tough front-rower Alex Chan from suspension.
Chan returns after serving a four-match suspension following a high shot on Parramatta�s Nathan Hindmarsh back in Round 20, his third high tackle suspension this year.
With the Storm pack leading the club to comprehensive wins over the Raiders and the Bulldogs in the past two weeks, coach Craig Bellamy has named Chan on a five-man bench for Saturday night�s match at Toyota Park.
The Storm�s forward stocks are at a season high with the return of Chan and the 29-year-old�s inclusion has been complimented by the news that Kirk Reynoldson should be fit for the match against Cronulla.
Following Melbourne�s landmark win over the Bulldogs last Sunday it was feared Reynoldson had re-torn his right calf muscle after leaving the field early, but the 25-year-old has since been cleared of aggravating the injury that saw him sidelined for two weeks.
After starring down the barrel of a decimating injury and suspension toll just four weeks ago, Melbourne now finds itself in the unique position of having a near-full compliment of forwards to choose from.
�Going on current form, I can see why I�m struggling to get a place in the starting side,� said Chan, who will take his place on the bench while veteran prop Rodney Howe starts in the front row.
�The forwards are really going well, they�ve been setting new benchmarks over the past couple of weeks and it�s exciting to watch. Trying to find space for myself is pretty tough.
�It�s a good thing though, competition is healthy and it�s excellent for individuals to get themselves to a level where they have to play well to stay in the side.�
Chan admits it has been difficult watching from the stands over the past month as his teammates pulled themselves out of a form slump to eventually claim the prized scalp of the Bulldogs last week.
�It�s been really tough watching the guys play over the past few weeks, particularly as the team is improving through the roof,� Chan added.
�It was hard watching from the sidelines due to the fact that I had let my teammates down again and then secondly watching the team play while they were achieving so much, particularly against the Bulldogs.�
Meanwhile Dustin Cooper�s season could be over after the 23-year-old winger tore the medial ligament in his right knee whilst playing for feeder club Brisbane Norths last Saturday. Cooper is facing a four to six week layoff.
MELBOURNE STORM TEAM TO PLAY THE CRONULLA SHARKS, SATURDAY AUGUST 28, AT TOYOTA PARK (7.30PM):
1. Billy Slater 2. Matt Geyer 3. Steven Bell 4. Ben MacDougall 5. Matt King 6. Scott Hill 7. Matt Orford 8. Robbie Kearns 9. Cameron Smith 10. Rodney Howe 11. David Kidwell 12. Stephen Kearney (c) 13. Dallas Johnson
STORM TRAINING THIS WEEK Wednesday: 1.30pm, Olympic Park Friday: 5pm, Olympic Park For further information contact James Avery: Phone (03) 9421 3222 Mobile: 0411 623 024 [email protected]