Arvo Wrap

Melbourne officials say they are confident of a crowd in excess of 30,000 for Sunday's preliminary final against Parramatta at Telstra Dome.

Over 27,000 tickets have already been sold for the clash, the winner of which will advance through to the grand final in Sydney in ten days' time. The attendance will be the largest for an NRL game in Melbourne with the Storm normally playing their matches at the much smaller Olympic Park.

Over 20,000 tickets remain available for the clash, but Storm officials are hopeful of a good walk up crowd with weather not being a factor due to the roof being closed for the game. Another plus for the Storm is the fact only one AFL final will be played in Melbourne this weekend with Geelong playing Collingwood at the MCG tonight.

Meanwhile, Manly have quickly backed away from claims former captain Ben Kennedy could make a surprise comeback in tomorrow's preliminary final, claiming a joke has been taken too far.

Manly media manager Peter Peters created a wave of controversy this morning by claiming on Sydney radio that the club could activate Kennedy's $2 contract to cover for injured backrower Glenn Stewart.

But the club has quickly refuted those claims, posting a short statement on their website saying Kennedy will not play this weekend or in the grand final next week if the Sea Eagles qualify. North Queensland captain Johnathan Thurston had laughed off the speculation when confronted with questions about Kennedy at the Cowboys' final training session this morning.

Thurston says the Cowboys have proven a lot of doubters wrong already by reaching tomorrow's preliminary final against Manly at the Sydney Football Stadium.

Thurston says nobody rated the Cowboys any chance of progressing this far earlier in the year and, despite several injury setbacks, the players are confident they can beat the Sea Eagles and qualify for the grand final.

Cowboys forward Carl Webb remains unlikely to overcome a calf strain and play against the Sea Eagles. Webb missed this morning's final training session at the Sydney Football Stadium and coach Graham Murray admits the fiery forward is probably only a 50-50 chance of playing.

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