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Storm ready for Cronk's absence this time

History may have unfortunately repeated itself for Melbourne but this time around the men in purple are prepared.

For the second year running Cooper Cronk has succumbed to injury during the Origin period, with a meniscus tear in his right knee to see him sidelined for at least the next three weeks.

The 31-year-old was already set to miss this week's game against the Eels due to Origin duty but this injury set back will mean Melbourne will also be without their star playmaker against fellow top-eight opposition Brisbane and Canterbury in the coming weeks.

It is certainly unwelcome news for the purple faithful but compared to the situation that was 12 months ago, this is far from a crisis.

At that time Cronk had suffered a broken arm in Origin I, which saw him placed on the injury list alongside almost every other half in the Storm squad.

Fast-forward to 2015 and this time around it is a different story, with the Storm having reinforcements in their ranks. 

Ben Hampton has been named to get first crack at seizing the vacant halfback spot and will play his first game of the season on Monday night against Parramatta.


Shaun Nona is another who has been forced to wait patiently in the wings since his solid showing for Queensland Residents back in early May.

"I'm sure he (Hampton) will take the opportunity with both hands. He's been training really well and he will slot in quite easily to our set-up," said five-eighth Blake Green, who will partner Hampton against the Eels.

Green's creativity and experience makes him the type of asset the Storm were desperate for a year ago. He again showed last week why Melbourne was so keen to lure him back to the NRL as he produced two tries, an assist and a kicking game that constantly had Penrith on their toes inside their own 20.

It will be up to Green to replicate that same performance in the next few weeks as the Storm turn to him to steer the attacking ship.

"I will probably still play the same, I might talk a little bit more than I need to," Green said.

"It is obviously really disappointing for the team and really disappointing for Cooper. He was obviously really looking forward to playing in Origin II but I suppose on the plus side for us he's not going to be away too long and we'll get him back."

Melbourne will host Parramatta on Monday night at AAMI Park, two days before Origin II kicks off across the road at the MCG.

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