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Bellamy may turn to Johns at halfback

Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy could look to NRL rookie Cooper Johns next week after halfback Jahrome Hughes suffered a groin injury on Thursday night.

Hughes pulled up lame after one of his best performances in the purple jersey, steering the Storm to a 24-6 win over the Sydney Roosters at the SCG.

However, he limped into the sheds with a groin injury and coach Craig Bellamy said he was unlikely to suit up against Parramatta next Thursday.

“We’re still going to be scratching there,” he said.

“We have Cooper Johns.

“He hasn’t played a first-grade game yet but if Hughesy doesn’t play perhaps he can get an opportunity.

“We’re trying to take the mentality that when somebody misses out somebody else gets a chance.”

The win propelled Melbourne to the top of the NRL ladder, but it came at a cost for both sides.

Winger Suliasi Vunivalu was also a casualty of Thursday’s injury-hit clash after suffering a broken jaw.

Vunivalu and Hughes will join skipper Cameron Smith (knee) and five-eighth Cameron Munster (knee) on the sidelines while the in-form Jesse Bromwich can escape a suspension with an early guilty plea for his dangerous contact on Matthew Ikuvalu.

Smith has been running but is unlikely to return next week as he is yet to do ball work, while Munster is still two or three weeks away from a return.

Bellamy sees it as a missed opportunity for Hughes to step up in the halves without the stars in the side.

“The way Hughesy came in, I think he’s going to be missing some which is a shame because I think he’s really starting to find some form now and with all due respect I think with having the other two out he’s gone to another level,” he said.

“It was certainly his best game at halfback for us, and if I sat down and thought about it, it was probably his best game for the club when you consider the circumstances and strength and class of the opposition.

“It was tremendous.”

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