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Christian Welch's season is feared to be over after suffering an Achilles injury

The Storm may consider an approach for Dragons forward Tariq Sims as a replacement for injured prop and co-captain Christian Welch after Saturday night's costly 26-16 defeat of Wests Tigers.

Welch's season is feared to be over after suffering a suspected ruptured Achilles, while winger George Jennings was assisted from the field with a knee injury which is feared to be a season-ending ACL.

Star hooker Brandon Smith broke his hand in just the second minute and is expected to miss 3-4 weeks.

"I heard a big pop and it's not good when you hear a pop, I've done two ACLs, it was a pretty tough night," Welch said on Sunday.

Heartbroken Welch provides update on injury

"I cried a fair bit in the rooms last night, my mum was crying when I called her.

"I'll have an operation on Monday and see if I can make it back late in the year."

Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy confirmed the club was likely to hit the player market for reinforcements and Sims is believed to already be on their radar for next season when Jesse and Kenny Bromwich, Felise Kaufusi and Smith depart.

With Sims playing NSW Cup for the Dragons after being left out of the side which beat the Warriors 28-16 on the Sunshine Coast, the Origin forward may become an option to replace Welch as the Storm's forward stocks are already low.

Bellamy confirms interest in Tariq Sims

After Jesse Bromwich was ruled out due to the NRL's COVID protocols and the suspension of hooker Harry Grant and middle forward Chris Lewis suspended, Bellamy was forced to give debuts to Tyran Wishart and Alec MacDonald.

Wishart played 78 minutes at hooker while MacDonald spent 57 minutes at lock after joining the Storm on a train-and-trial contract from Wynnum-Manly under 20s.

In addition, forward Tui Kamikamica is stood down under the NRL's no-fault stand down policy while he defends an assault charge.

Brandon Smith suffered a suspected broken hand
Brandon Smith suffered a suspected broken hand ©Robb Cox/NRL Photos

Asked whether the club was interested in Sims, Bellamy said: "Not at the moment, no".

However, he indicated that may change if Welch and Jennings are ruled out for the season.

"We will have a bit of interest in a few players," Bellamy said. "We have lost players and Tui is suspended. We are not sure when he is going to be coming back.

"We are not scraping the bottom of the barrel but we are getting towards it. I was really confident tonight in Alec being able to put the effort in ... but I am not quite sure we have got any more Alec’s left.

“We are going to have to pull two or three players into the squad if the two tonight are as serious as our medical team think they are. We are going to have to find some extra players from somewhere."

Bellamy said there was a sombre mood in the Storm dressing room, despite a win he described as one of the bravest in the club's history.

George Jennings suffered a suspected ACL rupture against Wests Tigers
George Jennings suffered a suspected ACL rupture against Wests Tigers ©Robb Cox/NRL Photos

“Obviously it is really disappointing for George, and certainly Christian," Bellamy said of the Queensland Origin prop. "He has had a few tough times in our game and he doesn’t deserve that so we will back him all the way to get back.

“You feel so proud and we should be so happy but you feel so down for the two guys that got those serious injuries.

“At the moment they are pretty sure that Christian has torn his Achilles and George has done his ACL. It looks like Brandon has a broken bone in his hand. His is obviously less severe … but the other two will miss basically the season.

“It kills us. Obviously you don’t know what to say to them. More so Christian, he has missed two full years with ACLs so it is really tough for him.

"It was near the end of the game, there was only about three minutes to go and there was no-one around him. It just went."

Jesse Bromwich, Grant, Lewis and Cameron Munster (suspended) are expected to return for Thursday night's match against South Sydney at AAMI Park.

 

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