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Jacks trials for Storm return as potential Croft replacement

Ryley Jacks is back training with Melbourne as the club explores a possible homecoming for the free agent to replace half Brodie Croft, who is likely to be heading to Brisbane.

Jacks has been handed a train and trial deal by the Storm – he made his NRL debut with Melbourne in 2017 before shifting to the Gold Coast last season – and has been on deck since their return to pre-season.

He has been without a contract since departing the Titans at the end of the season, but has been in discussions with Melbourne as Craig Bellamy looks to shore up his playmaking stocks.

Croft is expected to be released from the last two years of his deal to link with Brisbane and former Melbourne assistant Anthony Seibold.

Negotiations around taking Croft back to his home state have been ongoing for two months and looked to have stalled due to the Broncos' tight salary cap situation.

Initially reluctant to pay any freight to move Croft on, Melbourne and the Broncos made headway in talks last week that will allow the Storm to also ease their own spending for 2020.

Ryan Papenhuyzen in focus

Jacks, 27, was recruited by Bellamy in 2016 as a late-blooming half after stints in the Roosters and Titans systems.

At one point splitting his time between carpentry and Intrust Super Cup duties with Melbourne's feeder side Sunshine Coast Falcons, Jacks ended up playing 25 games for the Storm across two seasons.

He left the club last year to take up a one-year Titans deal under Garth Brennan, playing another 13 games on the Gold Coast before being cut loose two months ago.

Kiwi international Jahrome Hughes finished 2019 in the purple No.7 jersey as Croft made way to ensure Hughes and gun rookie Ryan Papenhuyzen could fit into Melbourne's starting side.

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