Storm’s Queensland Origin pair set to face Knights

Melissa Woods |

Harry Grant (left) is expected to back up after Origin by leading the Storm against Newcastle.
Harry Grant (left) is expected to back up after Origin by leading the Storm against Newcastle.

Coach Craig Bellamy is expecting Queensland duo Harry Grant and Xavier Coates to face Newcastle as Melbourne look to end a two-game losing streak against the Knights.

The Storm host the Knights on Sunday afternoon, with the home side completing their captain’s run on AAMI Park.

Grant and Coates had a light run, with Bellamy saying the pair wanted to back up after the Maroons’ triumph on Wednesday night.

“We don’t expect them to back up or we don’t push them to back up, but if they’re keen to back up we’re keen to have them,” Bellamy said on Saturday.

“We think that’s really a good sign for the team, that they want to be playing for the team. 

“Both of them did a really good job on Wednesday night and we’re just really glad to have them back.”

Bellamy said his team’s error-ridden start against Manly let them down, leading to a six-point loss before the bye, although they remain on top of the NRL ladder.

He hoped they could make an early statement on Sunday to give hooker Grant in particular some time on the sidelines.

“We’d like to lessen their time if we get the chance, but number one thing we want to go out and play well and hopefully get a good result,” the coach said.

“If it means leaving them on for a bit longer than what we’d like, that’s what we’ll do obviously.”

The Knights dropped out of the top eight, down to 12th, after their shock 30-point loss to the Bulldogs, but Bellamy thought they were a better side than their six wins suggested.

“I think they’ve lost a couple of close games … they’ve got some really good players and their back five are strong and they make good moves for them,” he said.

“They’re a good strong side, so we know that we’re going to have to play well.”

In late team changes, Storm second-rower Alec MacDonald withdrew with an ankle injury, with Joe Chan joining on the bench.

Knights fullback David Armstrong was unable to overcome a quad issue, with 20-year-old local junior Fletcher Sharpe making his NRL debut. 

Prop Daniel Saifiti has failed in his bid to return from a knee injury picked up last week and has been replaced on the bench by Jack Hetherington.