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Melbourne Storm captain Stephen Kearney will miss this week?s round 16 showdown with the Canberra Raiders due to a lower abdominal/groin injury.
The 31-year-old has been suffering from the injury for several weeks but following last Saturday?s physical encounter with Wests, was left with no option but to spend a week on the sidelines.
?The injury been something that has built up over the last few weeks and I?m just trying to give it a bit of a rest,? the Kiwi international said.
?Thankfully Robbie Kearns is not with the NSW Origin squad this week so I can get on top of the injury before it gets any worse.?
Kearney expects his teammates to encounter a very different Canberra outfit to the one that suffered a 20-point loss at the hands of the Storm in round nine earlier this year.
?Canberra will be looking for a bit of payback after the way we beat them and snapped their winning run in Melbourne back in round nine,? Kearney added.
?I dare say they will be expecting us to approach the game in the same manner as that previous match so it will definitely be a tough contest.
?I?m personally disappointed because it?s a big game for us this week but I?m sure the break will make a difference.?
Kirk Reynoldson will cover Kearney?s position in the back-row while prop Mitchell Sargent has been recalled to the run-on side partnering acting captain Robbie Kearns up front.
After an impressive performance in last week?s win over the Tigers, young utility back Dustin Cooper has retained his place on the wing and David Kidwell has been named to start in the centres.
Storm coach Craig Bellamy has named a 19-man squad for Sunday?s return bout against the Raiders with two players to be omitted from a bench that includes Nathan Friend, Robert Tanielu and Ryan Hoffman.
1. Billy Slater 2. Dustin Cooper 3. Steven Bell 4. David Kidwell 5. Marcus Bai 6. Matt Geyer 7. Matt Orford 8. Robbie Kearns 9. Cameron Smith 10. Mitchell Sargent 11. Peter Robinson 12. Kirk Reynoldson 13. Dallas Johnson
Interchange 14. Danny Williams 15. Ryan Hoffman 16. Fifita Moala 17. Glen Turner 18. Nathan Friend 19. Robert Tanielu
2 to be omitted.