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Storm won't gang up on returning Rapana

Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy was surprised Jordan Rapana was named by the Canberra Raiders to take on the Storm at GIO Stadium on Friday night but won't be asking his team to target the returning winger.

Rapana dislocated his shoulder while playing for New Zealand at the end of last season and wasn't expected to make a full recovery until midway through 2019.

But Rapana is well known for his healing powers and the talented 29-year-old was rushed back into the starting side for the round two encounter with the perennial heavyweights.

Whether Rapana's shoulder is ready for the rigours of a full 80 minutes against last year's runners up remains to be seen, but Bellamy won't be going out of his way to find out.

"We are not going to go away from our whole game plan just to run at Jordan or just to kick at Jordan," Bellamy said on Thursday.

"He is a class player, an international player and he has been one of the best wingers in the comp for a lot of years now. I am sure he wouldn’t be playing if he wasn’t ready."

Raiders v Storm - Round 2

The Raiders were one of the standout sides in the opening round, shutting out the Titans for a 21-0 victory in torrential rain on the Gold Coast.

Bellamy says he noticed a distinct difference in the way the Raiders played, following the off-season departure of monster props Junior Paulo and Shannon Boyd and the inclusion of impressive Englishman John Bateman.

"They have decided to change the style of play from the last couple of years," he said.

Raiders winger Jordan Rapana.
Raiders winger Jordan Rapana. ©Keegan Carroll/NRL Photos

"All you can go on is their trial form. They won both their trials and they were very impressive last week.

"One of the areas they want to be better at is defence and they certainly were that."

The prospect of rain in Canberra on Friday night hasn't dampened Bellamy's enthusiasm, with the veteran coach admitting he had his players working with wet balls at training earlier in the week.

Bellamy said taking on the Raiders in wet conditions won't alter his game plan too much, although he may make a 'couple of tweaks' to his already settled line-up.

"We all know how unpredictable the weather predictions can be, so we don’t want to be putting all our eggs in the one basket in case it doesn’t rain," Bellamy said.

"Sometimes it predicts rain and it (doesn’t rain), so we will make a couple of tweaks there if it is wet.

"The Raiders had some good practice for that last week, so they might be hoping for a bit of rain."

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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