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Storm Reshuffles In Bid To Cover
Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy has reshuffled his backline in a bid to combat a rising injury toll that has seen the Storm lose three key backline players in as many weeks.
Following injuries to winger Steve Turner (medial ligament - four weeks) and centre Ben MacDougall (torn hamstring - two weeks) during last week?s eight-point loss to the Broncos, Bellamy has called on Jake Webster, Dustin Cooper and Cooper Cronk for this week?s clash with the Panthers in Penrith.
All three have been brought into the Storm squad this week from feeder club Brisbane Norths as Bellamy seeks to ease Melbourne?s backline woes, having already lost winger Matt Geyer to a medial ligament injury in round two.
?We had enough backline players to start the year with, but we just seem to be getting a lot of injuries at the moment and they are all outside backs,? Bellamy said.
The Storm?s mounting injury toll is taking on an identical look to 12 months ago when the club?s backline was crippled by a number of enduring injuries.
?It (injury toll) is a carbon copy of last year, I don?t know what?s going on,? Bellamy added.
?It?s just one of those things that you go through every now and then so we?ve just got to do as best we can.
?We?ve just got to be properly prepared because the Panthers are in great form at the moment. It will be a good test for the entire team this week, backs and forwards.?
Melbourne-born Webster is no stranger to taking on the Panthers, after making his NRL debut against Penrith in round two last year.
The Storm went on to thrash the eventual premiers 42-16 in that match but Webster suffered a season-ending knee injury the following week, while playing for Norths in the Queensland Cup.
?Last year I was called into the team because of injuries to some other players and I was extremely keen to impress, but I got a bad knee injury while the Storm had a bye,? 20-year-old Webster said.
?It (debut) was just a tease last year, I got a taste of first-grade and all I wanted to do was play again. At the time I was over the moon and then in the last five minutes of the game with Norths, I did my knee and all my dreams for the season went down the tubes.
?It made me realise that I have to take my opportunities as best I can because they are not always available.?
20-year-old Cooper Cronk is a versatile utility that has been the regular five-eight for Norths this season ? he is yet to make his NRL debut. After a solid game against the Dragons in round three, only to be relegated to Norths last week, Dustin Cooper returns to first-grade this Sunday.
MELBOURNE STORM TEAM TO PLAY THE PENRITH PANTHERS, SUNDAY APRIL 11, AT PENRITH STADIUM (3PM):
1. Billy Slater 2. Jake Webster 3. Steven Bell 4. Matt King 5. Dustin Cooper 6. Scott Hill 7. Matt Orford 8. Robbie Kearns 9. Cameron Smith 10. Rodney Howe 11. Peter Robinson 12. Stephen Kearney (c) 13. David Kidwell 14. Danny Williams 15. Kirk Reynoldson 16. Antonio Kaufusi 17. Ryan Hoffman 18. Cooper Cronk