Storm Will be Under the Hammer

Melbourne's backline depth will be put to the test this weekend when the Storm take on the National Rugby League premiers without three of their first-choice outside backs.

In the absence of Matt Geyer (knee), Steve Turner (knee) and centre Ben MacDougall (hamstring), coach Craig Bellamy has called on three youngsters for the clash with Penrith.

Jake Webster, Dustin Cooper and Cooper Cronk - who is yet to play in the NRL - were named in an 18-man squad for the game at Penrith Stadium.

"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 told League Correspondent.

"It (injury toll) is a carbon copy of last year, I don't know what's going on.

"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 made his NRL debut in round two last year, coincidentally against Penrith.

The Storm hammered the Panthers 42-16 in that game before Webster suffered a season-ending knee injury the following week, while playing for the club's feeder side, Brisbane 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," 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."

Cronk, 20, is a versatile utility.