With Melbourne leading the competition, suspended Storm back-rower Michael Crocker believes he will have to earn his first-grade spot back with a stint in reserve grade.
Crocker will return from a nine-week suspension next round but, with the high-flying Storm sitting two games clear on the ladder, he could have his work cut out for him to force his way straight back into first grade.
It would follow the same path taken by fellow representative players Billy Slater and Scott Hill, who both had to work their way back into the top side with stints in premier league. Crocker says the past two-and-a-half months have been tough to take, with the representative star forced to watch from the sidelines as the Storm won seven of eight games and Queensland won its first State of Origin series since 2001.
On the flipside, besieged Sydney Roosters five-eighth Braith Anasta says he could never have imagined how tough his transition from Belmore to Bondi would be this season.
Anasta says he's only human and that he's hurting after bearing much of the criticism for the Roosters' woes in 2006. Not for the first time in his career, the former Bulldogs star was voted by fellow players as the competition's most overrated player before being axed from the NSW team for this month's State of Origin series decider against Queensland.
Elsewhere, Manly hooker Michael Monaghan is being linked to a move to North Queensland to partner Queensland State of Origin star Johnathan Thurston in the halves for the 2007 season.
Monaghan last season signed a three-year deal with the Sea Eagles but his manager is continuing to scour the NRL and the English Super League competitions looking for a halfback opening for the 26-year-old.Like