When Storm skipper Stephen Kearney runs out on to ANZ Stadium tomorrow to take on the Brisbane Broncos, he will put friendship aside as he goes head to head with good friend and former Melbourne hooker Richard Swain.
Before moving to Brisbane at the end of the 2002 season Swain had built an impressive 132 game record with Melbourne as well as a strong bond with the current Storm captain ? the two were and still remain very good friends.
However all this will be forgotten for 80 minutes tomorrow as the Storm look to snap the Broncos three game winning streak.
?I think the game will possibly be more emotional for Richard, he?s coming up against the team he spent five years with and as far as we?re concerned his part of the opposition now,? Kearney said.
?The way we see it we?re just playing against another team that has an ex-Storm player in it. However I do think the emotion involved in the match will ensure that he (Swain) has a big game.?
Fellow Storm stalwart Matt Geyer backs up this sentiment, he believes Melbourne must look to stop Swain if it?s any chance of knocking off the highly fancied Broncos.
?Through the week we?ve been working on a few plans of how to stop their players and ?Swainey? is one of those players,? Geyer explained.
?But after the game hopefully I?ll get the chance to have a beer with him and tell him what went wrong with their game.?
At the start of this year?s premiership many questioned the Storm?s ability to cover the loss of Swain and with all eyes on rookie replacement Cameron Smith the doubters were omnipresent.
But 19-year-old Smith has been one of the Storm?s most reliable contributors thus far, averaging over 27 tackles per game and offering plenty of attacking options when going forward.
?He (Smith) has done more than hold his own, I think he?s really stepped up and put his name on the hooking position here at the club,? Kearney added.
?We?ve seen what he can do when the forwards give him quick play-the-balls and get some go-forward rolling.
?The way Cameron has taken his chance and really made that position his own is very impressive and to think he?s still in his teenage years is quite an achievement in itself.?
Meanwhile Junior Langi has been ruled out of tomorrow?s match due to a quadriceps injury. Langi was a late withdrawal last week with the same injury and will be replaced by Ryan Hoffman.
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