Storm down on troops but backing their reserves to step up
It might be team musical chairs at the Melbourne Storm this week but they are backing their reserves to step up against the Titans on Sunday.
Melbourne are missing several of their stars for the round 24 clash, including key men Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Suliasi Vunivalu and the suspended Will Chambers, while Cameron Smith is nursing a sore back after hurting himself against the Eels.
Kiwi Asofa-Solomona can lay claims to being the Storm's most consistent forward this year, while Vunivalu and Chambers are experienced international players.
Prop Christian Welch says the defending premiers are backing their replacements – the likes of Ryley Jacks, Tui Kamikamica and Justin Olam – to step up against the 12th-placed Gold Coast.
"I suppose that has been the story this year. We've had injuries consistently throughout the season but we've been able to bring in guys and they've been able to do a really good job for us," Welch said.
Welch has enjoyed more game time in 2018, interchanging between the bench and a starting role at prop, and is backing his fellow forwards to make an impact.
"It's an exciting thing for me, to play more minutes, but at the same time we've got some really strong forwards. Tui (Kamikamica) – he should be playing more NRL, he's that good of a player. Sam Kasiano is back from injury.
"I think we've got a really good amount of depth in our forward pack. We're always driving ourselves out there when we're training."
PNG centre Justin Olam will replace Chambers, who will miss the next three weeks through suspension.
"I think Will's just disappointed to be out for a while. We certainly will miss him – towards the back end of last week's game (against the Eels), he came up with some big carries for us really helped us out.
"It's a good chance for him to get his body right and come back in three or weeks when he's due."
The Storm are currently on top of the NRL ladder but only separated by a small points differential over the Roosters.
Welch said it would be great to clinch another JJ Gilinan Shield.
"I think minor premiership would be great. That's obviously a goal but we're just looking forward to the Titans game."