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Storm to blood another rookie
Storm coach Craig Bellamy has signalled at least one change to the side that was soundly beaten by the Rabbitohs last Sunday, as Melbourne prepares for this week's clash with Penrith.
Former Redcliffe Dolphin Dustin Cooper is set to make his NRL debut for Melbourne at Penrith Stadium this week after being named on a six-man bench for the Storm.
Fellow rookie's Nathan Friend and Robert Tanielu have also been named on the bench with two players to be omitted before Saturday's match.
22-year-old Cooper was signed by the Storm from Redcliffe three weeks ago but due to contractual stipulations hasn't been able to play in the Queensland Cup since.
He lined up for Newtown on Saturday and was a key contributor in a losing side - if played against the Panthers he will be the fifth rookie blooded by the Storm this year.
“He (Cooper) scored a couple of tries on the weekend for Newtown and he defended quite well,” Bellamy said.
“We like what we've seen from him in training - obviously that isn't the heat of the battle, but he's a good mover and a big guy so we'll probably give him a shot this week.”
Bellamy admits he hasn't had the luxury of changing his playing personnel so far this season as the Storm has come to terms with a crippling injury toll.
But as the injury count has subsided in recent weeks other players have come into calculation, placing increased pressure on those players selected each week.
“The first eight to ten weeks we didn't have the option of dropping guys because we had so many injuries,” Bellamy added.
“But now we've got a coupe of good guys in form that aren't in the side so at some stage those guys will come into calculations.
“We've got a little bit of depth there now which is good for the team so hopefully some pressure can be kept on guys that are in the side.”
Veteran front-rower Robbie Kearns has been named in the side pending his fitness following Wednesday night's Origin opener.
Storm prop Mitchell Sargent has taken an early guilty plea on the grade one dangerous throw charge emanating from last week's loss to Souths. Sargent will miss one match.
MELBOURNE STORM TEAM TO PLAY PENRITH, SAT JUN 14, AT PENRITH STADIUM, 7.30PM
1. Billy Slater 2. Semi Tadulala 3. Steven Bell 4. Matt Geyer 5. Marcus Bai 6. Scott Hill 7. Matt Orford 8. Robbie Kearns 9. Cameron Smith 10. Mitchell Sargent 11. Peter Robinson 12. Stephen Kearney (c) 13. Dallas Johnson
Subs: 14. Danny Williams 15. David Kidwell 16. Dustin Cooper 17. Glen Turner 18. Robert Tanielu 19. Nathan Friend (two to be omitted)