Storm to battle on without Smith - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Storm to battle on without Smith

By Steve Jancetic 08/05/2010 11:06:14 PM Comments (0)

Melbourne will have to do without the man who has helped galvanise them in the face of the salary cap scandal after it was revealed skipper Cameron Smith would not play again before Origin I.

Scans taken on Saturday revealed the Australian rake had suffered ligament damage in Friday night's Test win over New Zealand, ruling him out for the Storm's next two games and leaving him racing the clock to be fit for the Origin opener on May 26.

Smith will visit a specialist early next week to further assess the injury, which occurred when his elbow hyper-extended under the weight of New Zealand lock and Storm teammate Adam Blair.

Ryan Hinchcliffe - who filled in at hooker when Smith played halfback during the Storm's opening two premiership games this year - will again slot into dummy half when Melbourne play their first game at their new home ground AAMI Park on Sunday.

Melbourne's other Test representatives Cooper Cronk (foot), Greg Inglis (hip) and Blair are all expected to back up, while Brisbane duo Darren Lockyer and Sam Thaiday have also been cleared to play their second match of the weekend.

The loss of Smith is a cruel blow for the Storm, with the Queenslander having taken it upon himself to be the public voice for the players in the wake of the salary cap scandal which has left them playing for nothing but pride for the remainder of 2010.

It now remains to be seen whether they can maintain the dedication and discipline they have shown in thumping the Warriors and North Queensland in the two games that have followed the announcement of sanctions in relation to the salary cap rorts without their on-field leader.

"Its not ideal being injured at this time of the year but I'm still hopeful that I will be back to full fitness when Origin rolls around later this month," Smith said.

While the loss of Smith hurts, the return to form of Test centre Inglis would have been a welcome sight for Storm fans.

Inglis tormented the Kiwi defence with several barnstorming runs, later admitting he was finally starting to find some form in 2010 after his start to the year was hampered by a hip injury he again aggravated against New Zealand.

"Yeah, that's the best I've felt," Inglis said after the 12-8 Test win.

"I don't know (why it's taken this long) but if you look at it the last three years it happens round five, round six I start kicking into gear.

"You've got to remember that I haven't had a pre-season, I was coming back from injury."

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