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Storm linchpins Robbie Kearns and Robbie Ross are expected to make their return from injury this weekend against the Penrith Panthers as Melbourne looks to cement a top eight position on the NRL ladder.
Ross is a certainty to play after successfully recovering from a torn calf muscle that sidelined him for two weeks, while Kearns return is not so assured.
“Robbie Ross will definitely play but Robbie Kearns is in some doubt as it's a week to week proposition with him,” explained Storm coach Mark Murray.
“Unfortunately his ongoing ankle injury hasn't progressed as much as we would have liked but we'll check his fitness later in the week.”
Ross's return has forced Junior Langi back to the centres and as a consequence Steven Bell has been omitted.
Scott Hill also returns to the Melbourne side after missing the Storm's win over the Roosters two weeks ago. Hill failed to back up from the Friday night Test match but is a definite starter this week.
Murray sighted three of the Storm's up and coming youngsters as possible replacements for Kearns should he not make it to the Penrith Football Stadium this Saturday (3pm).
“Kirk Reynoldson would be one possibility to replace Robbie (Kearns), along with Mitchell Sargent and Keith Mason who both played well in Brisbane last week, so we'll just have to have a look at them before Saturday,” Murray said.
Murray believes the Storm's position on the ladder (8th) has little or no bearing in what will be a tough contest against the last placed Panthers.
“They (Penrith) have played quite well without winning against both Newcastle and Brisbane in recent weeks. Whilst the Panthers are on the bottom of the ladder, if we turn up light we'll be in trouble.”
Semi Tadulala stays on the wing for the injured Matt Geyer (broken collarbone) who is anticipating a return before the end of the home and away season.
THE MELBOUNRE STORM TEAM TO PLAY THE PENRITH PANTHERS, THIS SATURDAY AT THE PENRITH FOOTBALL STADIUM, 3PM
1. Robbie Ross 2. Semi Tadulala 3. Aaron Moule 4. Junior Langi 5. Marcus Bai 6. Scott Hill 7. Matt Orford 8. Robbie Kearns 9. Richard Swain 10. Rodney Howe (c) 11. Peter Robinson 12. Stephen Kearney 13. Willie Leyshon
14. Michael Russo 15. Shane Walker 16. Danny Williams 17. Ian Sibbit
IN- Robbie Kearns, Robbie Ross, Scott Hill OUT- Matt Geyer, Kirk Reynoldson, Steven Bell
STORM TRAINING THIS WEEK
Wed: Olympic Park (10am) Thurs: Olympic Park (10am) Fri: Richie Benuad Oval, Parramatta (3pm)
For further information Contact
James Avery: Phone (03) 9421 3222 Mobile: 0411 623 024 [email protected]