Smith set to start at halfback for Cronk - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Smith set to start at halfback for Cronk

By Melissa Woods 08/03/2010 01:12:08 PM Comments (0)

Storm skipper Cameron Smith expects to open the NRL season against the Sharks at halfback, but believes regular No.7 Cooper Cronk will be back sooner than expected.

After off-season groin surgery, Cronk says he won't play again until round four, when Melbourne host St George-Illawarra on Good Friday, however Smith says his assiduous teammate may reclaim his jersey before then.

"He's the type of bloke who hates missing out on games," Smith said.

"They predicted round four but there's been good signs from him at training.

"He's looking good and has been running around the field so hopefully we'll have him back after a couple of matches."

Smith, the world's best hooker, played most of Melbourne's World Club Challenge gutsy win over Leeds at No.7, earning man of the match honours.

While coach Craig Bellamy has other halfback options such as five-eighth Brett Finch, Smith said he would again assume the duties against the Sharks on Saturday night at Toyota Stadium.

"We've gone into the world club challenge with it and I've done a lot training in the pre-season so it would be a little bit strange to change now.

"I guess the thing to tinker with is how long I play there for, when's the right time to change to hooker, or how many times I do that.

"If we continue to do what we did in the world club challenge we should be right."

Smith said playing halfback was "good fun" and he felt he had more energy in reserve when he moved back to hooker to help the Storm seal the hard-fought win.

Meanwhile, former Parramatta lock Todd Lowrie is hopeful of overcoming a groin injury to play his first NRL match with his new club.

Lowrie is a ready-made replacement for departed Storm stalwart Dallas Johnson.

The 26-year-old injured his groin late in the Rhinos game.

"Hopefully it will be ok with a bit more physio but it's a bit sore at the moment," Lowrie said.

He admitted it was a little strange to be playing with the Storm, who beat his Eels in the NRL grand final to earn the right to challenge Leeds.

"It was good to win something, even if the circumstances were a bit weird.

"I'm here now and was really happy to get the opportunity over there and a win was unreal."

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