Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy has named an extended 21-man squad as cover for the club�s three City/Country Origin players who are hoping to back up for Saturday night�s match against the Cronulla Sharks at Olympic Park.
The Storm has five-eighth Scott Hill and centre Matt King in camp with the Country Origin team this week while halfback Matt Orford is with the City side ahead of Friday night�s NSW State-of-Origin selection match.
All three will be aiming to back up 24 hours later for the match at Olympic Park, as will Sharks prop Jason Stevens and former Storm halfback Brett Kimmorley, who is set to go head-to-to head with Orford twice in two days.
Melbourne will train with Matt Geyer at pivot this week in Hill�s absence while Cronk will hold down halfback in place of Orford. Webster and Cooper have been named as cover for King and Geyer, should he remain at five-eighth.
While admitting that the timing of this week�s City v Country match is far from convenient, Bellamy is quick to point out that he is pleased to see his players given the chance to play representative football.
�It�s not the ideal situation for a club game but we put up with it because everyone else is in the same boat and we want our players playing rep footy,� Bellamy said.
�We�ve got one more than them (Sharks) playing on Friday night, they�ve got two and we�ve got three but it�s a representative game and I�m excited about our players being picked.�
Bellamy has every confidence his fleet of relative unknowns are up to the task, should they be required against the Sharks this week.
�I�ve got no problem at all with putting those guys in,� Bellamy added.
�I think Jake has played two games for us and Dustin�s played three and they�ve both played really well, so I�ve got no qualms in putting them in.�
Webster was unlucky to be dropped a fortnight ago after scoring a hat-trick against Souths in Round 6, while Cooper has scored three tries from as many games this year.
Despite suffering a heavy loss to St George Illawarra last week, Bellamy believes the Sharks have shown some solid form over the past month.
�They did well to beat Canberra and then they beat Parramatta so that�s pretty good form, they had a hiccup last week but then again the Dragons have been one of the form teams in the competition,� Bellamy said.
�I just know they�ve had two good wins and anyone can have a bad week and they might have had that last week.�
After a successful return from reserve-grade against the Warriors last Sunday, former Test prop Rodney Howe has been named in the Storm�s run-on side for Saturday night�s match. MELBOURNE STORM TEAM TO PLAY THE CRONULLA SHARKS, SATURDAY MAY 8, AT OLYMPI 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: 6.00pm, Olympic Park
For further information contact James Avery: Phone (03) 9421 3222 Mobile: 0411 623 024 [email protected]