Hoffman could make early Storm return - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Hoffman could make early Storm return

By Melissa Woods 16/04/2010 06:48:59 PM Comments (0)

Melbourne's quest to bounce back into the NRL winner's circle on Monday night against Manly could be boosted by the early return of injured representative backrower Ryan Hoffman.

The 2009 Kangaroo, who underwent knee surgery after a round one injury, wasn't expected to play until next weekend against the Warriors but trained strongly with the Storm on Friday.

He must pass a final fitness test on Sunday but was hopeful of taking his place in the defending champions' line-up at Etihad Stadium.

"It has come up pretty good and I've trained with the boys today so I'll just wait and see how I pull up on Sunday and do a last fitness test before the game but it's pretty good," Hoffman said.

"I did a full session the other day and a full session today and it's feeling pretty good.

"Fingers crossed it will be right and I'll be pulling the boots on Monday."

The former NSW Origin player said Manly, who Melbourne faced in 2007 and 2008 NRL grand finals for a win apiece, remained great rivals.

Their last meeting at Etihad was in week one of last year's finals series, when Melbourne steamrolled the visitors 40-12.

However Manly's crushing 40-0 grand final victory in 2008 was still raw for the Storm players.

"We've got a pretty healthy rivalry against them, they love playing us and we love playing them because they're always good, tough, close games," Hoffman said.

"We're under no illusions just how well they're playing, especially in their attack so it will be a big defensive effort for us on Monday."

Melbourne go into the match after suffering their first defeat of the season, losing by four points to the Titans.

They have only lost consecutive matches twice in their past 111 matches.

The Sea Eagles, meanwhile, enjoyed their third straight victory last weekend.

A big game is expected from the Storm's Test centre Greg Inglis, who this week completed lengthy legal proceedings after been charged last year with assaulting his girlfriend.

Hoffman said he believed Inglis had felt the pressure but his form was building.

"He's had a lot of issues on field and off the field and he's still a young kid," Hoffman said.

"He's been trying to come to terms with that and now that it's sorted out he can get back to playing footy."

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