While the 2018 #NRL Pre-Season is still a few weeks away, there's a bunch of warm-up clashes happeni...
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Melbourne?s Steve Turner and Nathan Friend will get their chance to impress coach Craig Bellamy this week after both players were called into the Storm side to cover the loss of Queensland State of Origin stars Billy Slater and Cameron Smith.
Despite debuting for Melbourne on the wing earlier this year, Turner is a recognised fullback having made his first NRL appearance in the No.1 jersey for Penrith, before crossing to the Storm at the end of last season.
The 19-year-old started the year in scintillating form, claiming a double in his first match for the Storm back in Round 3, before straining his medial ligament against Brisbane a week later, causing him to miss four matches.
?Steve certainly won?t let us down this weekend,? Bellamy said.
?He?s had a bit of a mixed introduction to our club this year, injuring his knee when he was going along so well and now he?s had two games back in Brisbane where he?s played really well.?
Turner agrees: ?It was a good start to the year for me but the injury held me back so I?ve just got to get on with it now. I?ll be making sure I do everything right and hopefully if I can play well this week I can be in the side next week.?
As was the case last season when Smith received a call up to the QLD Origin side, Friend has finally been rewarded for his consistency with feeder club Brisbane Norths.
?Friendy has probably been our most consistent player at Norths for 12 months, so he gets another go at first-grade this week and I know he?s really looking forward to it,? Bellamy added.
?He?s a different player to Cameron Smith but he won?t let us down and he thoroughly deserves his start on Saturday night.?
When it comes to securing a permanent first-grade spot with the Storm, Friend is under no illusion, but that won?t stop him from trying to leave a lasting impression on Bellamy.
?I was pretty happy with my pre-season and the way things have been going with Norths this year, so hopefully I?ll have a decent game and get a spot on the bench when Cam comes back,? Friend explained.
?It?s a bit hard to knock Smithy out and you?ve also got Danny (Williams) on the bench, which is probably another position I?d be looking to fill, so really you just have to bide your time.?
Ben MacDougall has been named at centre but his availability is subject to a grade two dangerous throw charge emanating from last week?s 20-point win over Parramatta.
MacDougall and Storm assistant coach Dean Lance will travel to Sydney tomorrow in an attempt to have the charge downgraded.
MELBOURNE STORM TEAM TO PLAY THE CANBERRA RAIDERS, SATURDAY MAY 22, AT OLYMPIC PARK (7.30PM):
1. Steve Turner 2. Matt Geyer 3. Steven Bell 4. Ben MacDougall 5. Dustin Cooper 6. Scott Hill 7. Matt Orford 8. Robbie Kearns 9. Nathan Friend 10. Alex Chan 11. David Kidwell 12. Stephen Kearney (c) 13. Kirk Reynoldson 14. Danny Williams 15. Dallas Johnson 16. Jake Webster 17. Rodney Howe 18. Cooper Cronk