Johnson's return to end Storm woes - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Johnson's return to end Storm woes

By Melissa Woods 01/07/2009 01:56:57 PM Comments (0)

Melbourne's tackling dynamo Dallas Johnson will be welcomed back with open arms as the Storm looks to address its defensive woes ahead of its NRL clash with Newcastle on Saturday night.

The Queensland representative sat out the Storm's lacklustre 26-16 upset loss to Canberra last Sunday, still recovering from the stomach virus that left him on a drip in the lead-up to Origin.

Melbourne missed an uncharacteristic 38 tackles so they are eager for the return of workhorse lock Johnson, who is fifth in the NRL tackling statistics with 580 for the season.

The previous time the sides met, in round 10, Melbourne only missed 17, with Johnson making a game high 47, 19 tackles more than his nearest teammate.

However coach Craig Bellamy said one player wouldn't have changed the outcome, and the remainder of the players must lift for the Olympic Park clash.

"Everyone knows what Dallas brings to a team, it's one of his great strengths and we certainly missed him but that's no excuse," Bellamy said.

"We've got other players there who've been playing really well and they didn't play up to their potential on Sunday.

"Our team prides themselves on their defence and it was a disappointing performance from that angle."

While Johnson was sidelined, gun centre Greg Inglis made a surprise appearance after suffering concussion and a damaged jaw in Origin.

Inglis sprained his ankle early against the Raiders and has been given a light training load with a focus on rehabilitation this week.

Bellamy praised the efforts of fullback Billy Slater and hooker Cameron Smith, who also backed up from Origin but questioned the efforts of their teammates.

"I thought Billy and Cameron were probably two of our better players.

"Billy tries so hard each week and I thought Cameron did the same so I don't think we lacked anything from our Origin guys.

"It was perhaps a few of the other guys who turned up in Canberra not quite ready to put themselves in front of tackles."

Prop Aiden Tolman said there was no complacency in the ranks after winning the previous round in the absence of the representative players, and said his team let their Origin players down.

They are expecting another physical encounter against the fifth-placed Knights, who are one competition point behind the Storm.

"We didn't perform as what we usually do in the middle and that let us down," Tolman said.

"The Origin guys came back and they were the best players on the field so it was a bit disappointing that we had all week to prepare for the game and we didn't really turn up to play.

'We've got a big game this week against Newcastle who are a big, physical side so we can turn it around this weekend with a good defensive performance."

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