Storm expect Grant to put on Tigers show

Harry Grant will hope to lead the Tigers to victory over his parent club Melbourne this weekend.
Harry Grant will hope to lead the Tigers to victory over his parent club Melbourne this weekend.

Melbourne can wrap up a top-two NRL finals spot on Saturday night but aren't expecting the Harry Grant-led Wests Tigers to make it easy for them.

The Storm's preparations were rocked on Friday with representative prop Christian Welch stood down for a COVID-19 breach after a woman who wasn't on their registered guest list stayed over in his room at their hotel.

Welch will miss the Sunshine Coast Stadium game and likely face a fine from the NRL.

The finals are out of reach for the ninth-placed Tigers but Storm coach Craig Bellamy says Grant will rise to the challenge of taking on his former teammates.

In search of more game time, hooker Grant joined the Tigers on a one-season loan so will test himself against the best in the game in Melbourne's Cameron Smith.

The captain was a key part of Grants' tutelage at the Storm, helping mould him into a likely Queensland State of Origin selection later this year.

"Harry has obviously done a great job with the Tigers and he's a terrific player," Bellamy said on Friday.

"Our guys are looking forward to playing against him and I'm sure Harry is looking forward to the game against us.

"Cameron's done a whole heap of work with him when he's been with us so he's obviously taken a lot of that on board as he's had one hell of a year for the Tigers."

The player Grant swapped with, Paul Momirovski, will also get a chance to take on his own club after the centre was included in the 17 in his return from finger surgery.

Benji Marshall will be partnered in the halves by another wily veteran Josh Reynolds, who has stepped in for suspended No.7 Luke Brooks.

Despite the Tigers missing the finals for the ninth successive season, they've had some tight battles with the Storm with their past three matches decided by two points or less.

In 2018 Marshall kicked a field goal in the 75th minute to secure victory.

"Benji is looking to play against next year so he will be looking to impress and he's been outstanding the last couple of weeks and Josh is a real competitor although he hasn't had a lot of opportunities the last few weeks," Bellamy said.

Welch has been replaced in the starting side by Tino Faasuamaleaui.

STATS THAT MATTER

* Since 2016 Melbourne have won four of six games, with all six decided by single digits, with the past three decided by two points or less.

* Melbourne have won all five games on the Sunshine Coast scoring an average of 35 points and conceding a shade under 12 per game.

* Benji Marshall has 19 try assists this season, second most behind Shaun Johnson (22).

Courtesy of Fox Sports Stats.

Australian Associated Press