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Melbourne Storm will welcome back captain Stephen Kearney from a groin injury for Saturday night?s clash with the North Queensland Cowboys at Olympic Park.
Kearney?s return is a timely one for the Storm who will be without the services of veteran prop Robbie Kearns and young hooker Cameron Smith ? both are in camp with the NSW and QLD Origin teams respectively.
After missing last Sunday?s historical 10-point win over the Raiders in Canberra, Kearney ? who overtakes Daryl Halligan for the most NRL games played by a New Zealander this week ? is glad to be back for the return bout with the Cowboys.
?Robbie and Cameron have both been integral parts of the team this year so from a personal point of view it?s good to be back for such an important game,? the Melbourne skipper said.
?The door has opened for others to come in to the side and I know that everyone has 100 percent confidence in guys like Nathan Friend coming on to the bench.? The Kiwi international says his side has a strong chance of making July a successful month considering the Storm has three consecutive home games starting this weekend.
?The fate of this month is in our hands and we have to make the most of the situation that presents itself over the next few weeks,? Kearney added.
?It really sits with us now and I know as a group we are determined to go into August on a good note.?
Kirk Reynoldson will cover the loss of Kearns this week starting alongside Mitchell Sargent in the front-row.
Enforcer Danny Williams has been named as Smith?s replacement at hooker while forward utility Friend comes on to the bench for just his second game in Storm colours.
Similar to last week Melbourne?s bench comprises of youngsters ? all four replacements are under the age of 24.
MELBOURNE STORM TEAM TO PLAY THE NTH QLD COWBOYS, THIS SATURDAY AT OLYMPIC PARK, 7.30PM
1. Billy Slater BENCH 2. Dustin Cooper 14. Nathan Friend 3. Steven Bell 15. Ryan Hoffman 4. David Kidwell 16. Fifita Moala 5. Marcus Bai 17. Glen Turner 6. Matt Geyer 18. Robert Tanielu 7. Matt Orford 8. Kirk Reynoldson 9. Danny Williams 10. Mitchell Sargent 11. Peter Robinson 12. Stephen Kearney (c) 13. Dallas Johnson
IN: Stephen Kearney, Nathan Friend OUT: Robbie Kearns (NSW Origin), Cameron Smith (QLD Origin)
STORM TRAINING THIS WEEK Wednesday: 2pm, Olympic Park Friday: 5.30pm, Olympic Park