The NSW Blues have been named for the first game of the 2017 #Origin series.
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Melbourne Storm?s Robbie Kearns is eager to assume the role of elder statesmen this week as the Storm look to avenge a humiliating 27-point loss to Souths earlier this year.
With Kearns away on Origin duty the Storm lacked the experience of a wise head against the Rabbitohs in round 13 and the NSW prop is determined to play the role of leader this week, particularly with skipper Stephen Kearney a chance of missing Saturday night?s game.
Kearney is scheduled to line-up for New Zealand on Friday night and will need a remarkable turnaround if he is to back up for the Storm 24 hours later.
In a bid to maintain an element of experience among a group of youngsters Melbourne has tried to ensure that at no stage this year both Kearns and Kearney are missing from the Storm line-up.
?It probably helps to have that older influence in those tight games,? Kearns explained.
?Obviously it is good to have a little bit of experience out there and it?s worked well for us in recent weeks because when Steve (Kearney) wasn?t around I was and the young guys really stood up.?
Kearns ? who will play his career out with the Storm after re-signing for a further two years last week ? has continued to be Melbourne?s dominant forward this year.
Last week?s epic loss to Brisbane was no exception with the 31-year-old racking up 47 tackles and 21 hitups following his appearance in last week?s State of Origin game three.
?I didn?t obviously get a lot of game time last Wednesday night and I always try to get a fair amount of work under my belt, but I?d give it (Sunday?s effort) all back if we could have won the game,? Kearns lamented.
?The Broncos match was a game that we could have and should have won but we didn?t so we?ve got to consolidate our place in the eight this week against Souths.?
Kearns will be hoping there is no sign of avid Souths fan Russell Crowe this week following his sideline antics with Rabbitohs coach Paul Langmack in the round 13 clash.
?He (Crowe) was lapping the win up and he had every right to, he?s been supporting them for a long time and they haven?t won too many games this year,? the former Storm skipper added.
?But hopefully we can get one back on them this time and maybe even have a few of our own celebrities on the sidelines.
?Last time it was pretty devastating watching the boys go round in that it was a game we most probably should have won.
Meanwhile Storm football manager Greg Brentnall will act as an authority on tackling for AFL club Melbourne in tonight?s hearing against Demon defender Matthew Wheelan at the AFL tribunal.
Wheelan has been booked on a charge of rough play against Hawthorn?s Shane Crawford with Whelan alleged to have dumped the Hawthorn captain in a spear tackle during the first quarter of last week?s match.
Brentnall will offer advice as the Demons seek to have Wheelan?s charge dismissed.