Rookie Sydney Roosters halfback Sam Walker can expect an AAMI Park ambush by the Storm’s big men in the clash of the NRL titans in Melbourne on Friday night.
Teenager Walker has impressed in his two games since taking over from injured Origin playmaker Luke Keary, who is out for the year with a knee injury.
But Melbourne are planning to pay him some special attention, with giant forwards Nelson Asofa-Solomona or Tui Kamikamica set to get the job of targeting the youngster.
“We’ll have to sit someone on him and try and get him to make a few tackles,” Storm coach Craig Bellamy said on Thursday.
But Bellamy acknowledged Walker may be tough to rattle.
“He’s handled everything thrown at him in the two games and it’s been a pretty impressive debut for a young kid playing in a key position,” Bellamy said.
“He’s only obviously early into his career but last week was quite a performance for a guy just playing his second game.”
The Roosters will have Ben Marschke at hooker after he successfully challenged a crusher tackle charge, while the Storm are still working out how best to use both star rakes Brandon Smith and Harry Grant.
They appear likely to go with the same set up from last week’s big win over Canterbury after Smith trained with the starting side on Thursday.
Suffering one loss to sit second on the ladder, the Roosters have scored more tries than any other team, notching 30 from their five games.
Sixth-placed Melbourne are also tracking well, in a group of teams who are next best, scoring 24 tries so far.
Bellamy said the purple wall of defence was a priority.
“We know how many good attacking players they’ve got – obviously we talk about young (Sam) Walker but you go to their back five and then (Victor) Radley and Jared (Warea-Hargreaves) and Isaac (Liu) in the middle there and that’s a pretty formidable side.
“Even though Keary’s not there it’s going to be real tough game.”
State of Origin centre Brenko Lee, named among the reserves, won’t play with Bellamy feeling he needs more training under his belt.
While there’s no set date for Lee’s first game of the season, Bellamy said that co-captain Dale Finucane will likely be back for next Sunday’s clash with the Warriors after also overcoming a pre-season calf injury.
He said that Finucane had impressed in training and could have played this week but they decided to ease him back after he struggled with the same injury last season