Melbourne Storm: Huge selection issues ahead of Eels clash

Michael Holland
Craig Bellamy NRL

Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy is facing more selection issues ahead of the clash with Parramatta after Tyran Wishart became the latest player to be ruled out.

The Storm were hit by the news that star hooker Harry Grant contracted Covid-19 on Tuesday. And now his housemate Wishart has also been affected. Wishart has so far avoided the virus but is deemed a close contact so has to isolate for seven days.

Both players will be available for round four but the Eels clash is a no-go. It is just the latest setback for Bellamy who is now hoping Brandon Smith can make a miraculous recovery.

The Kiwi, who will be heading to the Sydney Roosters next season, broke his hand in round one. He has made remarkable progress and talked up his own chances of playing on Saturday.

Melbourne Storm cool Smith hopes

However Storm officials are being a bit more realistic and think the game will come too soon. Storm football manager Frank Ponissi says the operation on the hand was a success but the Eels clash is a doubt.

“He’s probably unlikely to play – it might just fall a couple of days short,” Ponissi said. “He’s come along really well and the surgeon is really happy but he’s just got to get strength back in his hand.

“We named him as an outside chance he’s in the mix and we will see how he goes.”

The Storm have yet to announce who will replace Grant and Wishart in the squad. They will be keen to give Smith as long as possible in the hope he can take the No.9 jersey.

That would certainly make up for the loss of Grant. The Storm have always felt blessed to have two star players vying for the same position. To lose them both and then Wishart is some cruel luck.

Grant was a revelation in the thrilling win over Souths when setting up two tries. He also came second in the tackle count.

King wary of Eels

Josh King, an off-season recruit from Newcastle pipped him to the post with 51 tackles. King has hit the ground running and is proving to be a more than adequate replacement for Dale Finucane.

Thankfully he is good to go against the Parramatta Eels and he is expecting a tough game. Brad Arthur’s men are smarting following a last-gasp defeat against the Sharks and will want to bounce back.

“Parra are a great side and they have shown that for the last few years,” King said. “They have got a big forward pack and plenty of talent in the backs but we are focusing on each other after last week’s game and how we can get better.”