Storm select strong squad
Melbourne Storm have included 11 members of their Grand Final-winning team in a 21-man squad for the World Club Challenge against Leeds Rhinos at Headingley on Friday 22 February.
Kangaroo trio Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk will all be part of the squad that flies out of Melbourne tomorrow after overcoming injury concerns.
Smith is fine to tour despite breaking his nose in the NRL All-Stars clash in Brisbane yesterday, a match Slater and Cronk withdrew from.
Cronk has sufficiently recovered from a back injury to travel, while Slater, who pulled out of the All Stars game with ankle and shoulder complaints, proved his fitness in the Storm’s 40-8 trial defeat by Canberra on Friday.
However, the Storm paid a heavy price for their mauling by the Raiders, with New Zealand internationals Matt Duffie (hamstring) and Kevin Proctor (knee) and utility back Maurice Blair (cheekbone) all suffering injuries which ruled them out of the trip.
The squad includes former Wigan Warriors duo Brett Finch and Ryan Hoffman, who will be appearing in his fourth World Club Challenge, England international Gareth Widdop and new recruits Lagi Setu, Junior Sa’u and Junior Moors.
Melbourne and Leeds have met twice in the World Club Challenge, in 2008 and 2010, with honours shared.
The Rhinos are the current world title holders after defeating Manly in last year’s match, while the Storm return to the UK for the first time since 2010 and will be looking to become the first NRL club to win three global challenge matches.
The squad arrive in London on Tuesday morning and will spend five days in the capital before travelling to Leeds next Sunday to complete their final preparations and will hold an opposed training session with Halifax on Tuesday week.
Melbourne squad: Kenny Bromwich, Jesse Bromwich, Will Chambers, Cooper Cronk, Brett Finch, Mahe Fonua, Ben Hampton, Tohu Harris, Ryan Hinchcliffe, Ryan Hoffman, Junior Moors, Bryan Norrie, Justin O’Neill, Jason Ryles, Junior Sa’u, Lagi Setu, Billy Slater, Cameron Smith (capt), Siosaia Vave, Sisa Waqa, Gareth Widdop.