Cameron Smith could still spend time in the halves in Thursday night’s blockbuster against the Sydney Roosters as Melbourne plot life without Cameron Munster.
Ryley Jacks and Jahrome Hughes have been named to partner up for just the second time at Suncorp Stadium, after being a makeshift pairing just once before in late 2018.
Smith will start at hooker as he has done for the majority of his career, however, Brandon Smith remains on the bench giving the Storm some flexibility.
“There could be a couple of swaps around, we will see how we go,” coach Craig Bellamy said.
“With Brandon on the bench he adds a lot to our team. Not only at dummy half but around the ruck as well.
“It will be a bit of how the game goes. We have a plan there, but sometimes it doesn’t go to plan with other things happening in the game.
“We think we can move Cameron into the halves if we need to because we have a great back up there in Brandon.”
Smith has not started in the halves since 2014, having done so just 11 times in his 418-game career.
But he has slotted in as a playmaker for short periods, including in Munster’s absence in the second half of last week’s big win over the Warriors.
The Storm are hoping to have Munster back in as soon as three weeks, but could still consider other options before then.
Bellamy revealed Cooper Johns – son of Matthew – had been an option for Thursday’s game before he decided to go for experience against the two-time defending champions.
“With Munster getting hurt he certainly comes into consideration,” Bellamy said.
“We thought Ryley was the right guy with Jahrome breaking his hand (last month), and he was tremendous in that win over Newcastle.
“He’s had a lot of first-grade experience, we just think that’s the right way to go for this game.
“We will check it out as we go and we see how long Cameron Munster is out, if he (Munster) hasn’t been our best player this year, he has been in our top two.
“We’re going to miss him but at the end of the day we have to move on and do the best we can without him.”
Meanwhile Roosters coach Trent Robinson said the pairing of Hughes and Jacks couldn’t be underestimated.
“They’ve obviously played quite a bit,” Robinson said.
“They’re not young or new to their system. We’ve studied what they’re going to play and their style of play.
“And what we want to do to defend and pressure that.”
STATS THAT MATTER:
* The Roosters and Storm have won five of the past 10 premierships.
* In matches between Bellamy and Robinson, both teams have scored and conceded 256 points.
* The Roosters are ranked first for defence, with Melbourne second.