The NSW Blues have been named for the first game of the 2017 #Origin series.
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Storm coach Craig Bellamy has named his strongest possible 21-man squad for the match, rewarding those players that have performed throughout the pre-season.
Bellamy used 28 players during last weekend?s trial match against the Brisbane Broncos, but this week has selected a team that will closely resemble the side to take on Newcastle in the Storm?s season opener on March 21.
?All of the guys picked for this week?s match are a chance of playing first grade this year but the guys that have gone back to (Brisbane) Norths this weekend, are in the same boat as well,? Bellamy explained.
?We just want more people playing football this week. At the moment those guys (selected this week) are probably the ones that have put their hands up the furthest, because they?ve had good pre-seasons and played well last week.?
Robbie Kearns will make his first pre-season appearance for Melbourne while recruits Alex Chan and Ben MacDougall have been rewarded for strong off-seasons by being named in the Storm?s starting side.
The former Brisbane assistant coach has opted for youth at fullback, going with Billy Slater while Robbie Ross has been named on the bench.
?Robbie will get half a game but Billy will play the first half,? Bellamy said.
?He (Slater) played well last week, he was very good defensively and played centre and wing all game so he deserves a run at fullback.
?He would probably prefer to play fullback and he did such a good job there last year, he deserves a chance.?
Chan will line-up alongside Kearns in the front row while Storm premiership player Rodney Howe has been named on the bench with Andrew McFadden who is set to face his old club.
?Chan came off the bench last week and Howe started so I?ve just swapped them around and obviously ?Kearnsy? is back this week and he needs a bit of time on the field,? Bellamy added.
Dallas Johnson will not play this weekend after suffering a groin injury in last week?s four-point loss to Brisbane.
MELBOURNE STORM TEAM TO PLAY CANBERRA RAIDERS THIS SATURDAY AT ERIC WEISSEL OVAL, WAGGA AT 6.30PM: 1. Billy Slater 2. Matt Geyer 3. Matt King 4. Ben MacDougall 5. Fifita Moala 6. Scott Hill 7. Matt Orford 8. Robbie Kearns 9. Cameron Smith 10. Alex Chan 11. Peter Robinson 12. Stephen Kearney 13. David Kidwell 14. Robbie Ross 15. Ryan Hoffman 16. Antonio Kaufusi 17. Rodney Howe 18. Kirk Reynoldson 19. Glen Turner 20. Andrew McFadden 21. Danny Williams
For further information contact James Avery: Phone (03) 9421 3222 Mobile: 0411 623 024 [email protected]