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ROSS ONLY CHANGE FOR STORM July 2, 2002
After regaining some of the form that saw him selected for Origin football two years ago, Storm fullback Robbie Ross will miss this Saturday's important clash against the Wests Tigers with a torn calf muscle.
Junior Langi, who played fullback in Ross's absence for the first eight weeks of this year, will wear the number one jersey and Steven Bell will come in to the side to take up Langi's place in the centres.
Ross tore his right calf muscle in the first half of last week's disappointing loss to the Northern Eagles at Brookvale and will be sidelined for up to three weeks.
It is yet another injury setback for the dynamic fullback, who up until his return in round nine this year had played just 14 games since round 13, 2000.
Current captain Stephen Kearney believes Melbourne - sitting in 11th place (5-1-9) - will be mentally prepared for the 10th placed Tigers (5-9) this Saturday at Olympic Park (3pm).
“The important thing is to put the weekend behind us and make sure that we turn up with an effort level that is a lot stronger than against the Eagles,” Kearney said.
“After the weekend everyone is disappointed and it's stewing up inside us and I think it's just a matter of getting rid of all of that and starting afresh against the Tigers.
“Last week they (Wests) played a typical Tigers brand of football in that they were nice and physical and showed some intimidation.”
Kearney points out that while Ross is a vital component in the Storm side, Junior Langi has showed he can step up to the fullback position with aplomb.
“It's pretty disappointing for Robbie considering his spate of injuries over the last couple of years,” Kearney said.
“He was running into a bit of form and he's a really important part of the Storm jigsaw puzzle, but in saying that I thought Junior Langi was fantastic for us at the beginning of the year.
“He (Langi) brings the ball back strong and even over the last couple of weeks I think he's been really good for us. In terms of having Robbie out, I think we're lucky to have a replacement like Junior.”
Kearney, who is filling in as captain for the injured Rodney Howe (back in 2-3 weeks), says he has felt the stress of the last two months - a time that saw the Storm record its longest losing streak in the club's history.
“What we have encountered over the last seven or eight weeks, when we lost six in a row and had a draw, has been a really stressful time,” Kearney explained.
“I know for one I've been around the game for a while now and it's been a very tough time.
“It's important for ourselves and for our fans that whatever issues we have, are put well behind us and we focus on football and winning games.”
THE MELBOUNRE STORM TEAM TO PLAY THE WESTS TIGERS, THIS SATURDAY AT OLYMPIC PARK, 3PM
1. Junior Langi 2. Matt Geyer 3. Aaron Moule 4. Steven Bell 5. Marcus Bai 6. Scott Hill 7. Matt Orford 8. Robbie Kearns 9. Richard Swain 10. Peter Robinson 11. Danny Williams 12. Stephen Kearney 13. Willie Leyshon
14. Michael Russo 15. Ian Sibbit 16. Henry Perenara 17. Kirk Reynoldson