Widdop to step up for Storm

Gareth Widdop is set to take up a lead role with Melbourne after being named as Cooper Cronk‘s replacement for Saturday’s clash with St George.

Widdop, normally a five-eighth, has been named at halfback for the match at AAMI Park after Cronk failed to overcome a foot problem.

Storm assistant coach Robbie Kearns has full confidence in the young Englishman to do a good job against the Dragons.

“Gareth’s a sensational player, he’s really stood up this year and made a bit of a name for himself,” said Kearns.

“At the start of the year there was a bit of a showdown between him and Luke Kelly vying for that five-eighth position but Luke unfortunately got injured and Gareth grabbed the opportunity with both hands.

“Cooper being out is obviously bad news for us but it gives the opportunity for Gareth to really stand up and be a bit of a playmaker.”

Elsewhere, Dane Nielsen and Maurice Blair have been named in a 17-man squad, but Cronk and Justin O’Neill miss out.

“Obviously for those two guys to be named in this week’s team shows that they’re half a chance of playing and their injuries aren’t as bad as first thought,” added Kearns.

“Maurice has had an unbelievable year coming from Penrith, and Dane Nielsen went on to play State of Origin for Queensland this year, he’s been setting the world on fire.”

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