The NSW Blues have been named for the first game of the 2017 #Origin series.
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Melbourne Storm has received a significant boost ahead of Saturday night?s clash with Newcastle following the return of dynamic halfback Matt Orford and try-scoring centre Steven Bell.
After making speedy recoveries from knee injuries, both Orford and Bell have been named in the Storm side that will tackle the Knights - minus skipper Andrew Johns - at Olympic Park from 7.30 this Saturday night.
?I?ve been working hard with the knee in rehab and even though there?s room for a little more improvement it certainly is right to play on this week,? Orford said of the knee he injured in the round five win over the Sharks almost three weeks ago.
?My confidence has certainly grown in recent weeks and I?m pretty happy that I?ll be able to do the things I want to do on the field without being restricted.
?Halfback is a tough position to have people in and out all the time and hopefully I can stay there for a while now and add some stability.?
Bell started the season in spectacular fashion picking up a round one hat trick before suffering a cartilage tear at training during the build-up to Melbourne?s round two win over the Panthers.
Orford believes the Storm can ill afford to underestimate a Newcastle side that is missing his opposite number, citing the Knight?s forwards as prime candidates to step up in John?s absence.
?He (Johns) is obviously a big part of the their game but in saying that I think their coach Michael Hagan will have the other guys revved up to compensate the loss of ?Joey?,? Orford added.
?I dare say it will be their forwards that step up because they gave us a good whacking last time so I think they?ll be playing that sort of game again and we?ve just got to stand up and be accountable.?
With the loss of Scott Hill due to a shoulder injury, Matt Geyer slots into the familiar five-eighth position this week. Junior Langi moves out to the wing and despite being replaced late last week, kiwi Glen Turner will make his 2003 debut from the bench.
Storm forward David Kidwell is named this week after he was cleared of a late tackle charge on Cowboys halfback Chris Sheppard and Ryan Hoffman has been omitted.
Meanwhile Storm utility Andrew McFadden has been cleared of further serious damage after re-injuring his groin midway through last week?s loss to the Cowboys. Scans have revealed no new damage to the groin he had operated on at the end of last season.
?The MRI has shown a tear to some existing scar tissue but there is no significant muscle or tendon injury,? Storm doctor Greg Hickey said.
?We?ll take the injury cautiously but hopefully he?ll bounce back quickly. He will be working towards a return in about four weeks time.?
MELBOURNE STORM TEAM TO PLAY NEWCASTLE, THIS SATURDAY AT OLYMPIC PARK, 7.30PM
1. Robbie Ross 2. Junior Langi 3. Steven Bell 4. Billy Slater 5. Marcus Bai 6. Matt Geyer 7. Matt Orford 8. Robbie Kearns 9. Cameron Smith 10. Mitchell Sargent 11. Peter Robinson 12. Stephen Kearney (c) 13. David Kidwell
BENCH 14. Danny Williams 15. Dallas Johnson 16. Kirk Reynoldson 17. Glen Turner
For further information contact
James Avery: Phone (03) 9421 3222 Mobile: 0411 623 024 [email protected]