Crocker eyes early NRL return for Storm - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Crocker eyes early NRL return for Storm

By Steve Jancetic 12/03/2007 10:06:10 PM Comments (0)

Michael Crocker is in the mix but Paul Gallen isn't ahead of Tuesday's unveiling of teams for the opening round of the NRL.

Crocker has been training strongly with the Melbourne first grade squad for the past week following off-season knee surgery, and is pushing strongly for a bench spot for Friday night's clash against Wests Tigers at Olympic Park.

The former Test utility was not due to return until at least round three, and while his unexpected comeback would provide a huge boost for the Storm it would just as big a headache for coach Craig Bellamy, who would have to find a way to work Crocker into a side which demolished Brisbane 46-0 in the club's final trial match.

While Crocker is set to play, Gallen's chances of turning out in Cronulla's opening game against Penrith appear forlorn.

The NSW Origin backrower has been making stunning progress from an ankle ligament injury suffered in Cronulla's trial win over South Sydney, but Sharks officials said he was losing the race to be fit.

"He really wants to play but he's unlikely," a Sharks official said.

"He wasn't due to get back until round three initially but he is some chance for (round two)."

Five-eighth Adam Dykes (foot) is rated more likely to take on the Panthers, coach Ricky Stuart set to name him alongside halfback and skipper Brett Kimmorley at the scrumbase.

Dykes missed all three of the Sharks trial matches, but it is believed he still has the inside running on former Brisbane playmaker Brett Seymour for the No.6 jumper.

The five-eighth spot will also be the subject of much interest with both Manly and St George Illawarra.

Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler refused to shed any light on whether Jamie Lyon would make his Manly debut at pivot or centre, with incumbent Travis Burns still hopeful of retaining his place for the match against Canberra at Brookvale on Saturday night.

Young Dragons pair Richie Williams and Rangi Chase are also battling it out for crack at the No.6 jersey for Sunday's match against Gold Coast, both having spent time there at training following the injury to Mark Gasnier.

Bulldogs coach Steve Folkes has a few injury issues to take care of before he can finalise his side, Brent Sherwin (ankle), Matt Utai (ankle) and Andrew Emelio (adductor) all in doubt for the trip to Newcastle.

International forwards Mark O'Meley (quad) and Reni Maitua (knee) have both been cleared to play.

The Knights have injury concerns of their own, none bigger than skipper Andrew Johns who continues to be hampered by a hamstring strain.

New Zealand Warriors coach Ivan Cleary should have a full roster to choose from for his club's meeting with Parramatta, the Eels expected to have Test second rower Nathan Hindmarsh back on deck for his first run of 2007.

South Sydney coach Jason Taylor will decide between Joe Williams and Jeremy Smith for the No.7 jumper against the Sydney Roosters.

The Roosters named their side last week with Josh Lewis to partner Mitch Aubusson in one of the youngest halves combinations in the NRL.

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