Melbourne star Jahrome Hughes has been ruled out of the NRL semi-final against the Sydney Roosters in a major blow to the Storm’s hopes of avoiding a straight-sets exit.
The halfback did some running on Thursday away from the cameras but failed to train with the main group ahead of Friday night’s sudden-death blockbuster at AAMI Park.
The Storm confirmed on Thursday night that Hughes would miss the match through a calf injury, with Tyran Wishart to fill in at halfback.
Melbourne have other halves options in their 17, with Harry Grant and Nick Meaney also able to step in at No.7.
“(Wishart) has done most of the training there (on Thursday), but we’ve also got a couple of other options we can use,” coach Craig Bellamy said.
“There’s a bit of shuffling going on but we’ve got a plan that hopefully we’ll be able to stick to.”
Melbourne were humbled 26-0 by Brisbane last Friday in their first loss against the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium since 2009.
Since winning the 2020 premiership in legend Cameron Smith’s final game, the Storm are 1-3 in finals, losing their last three dating back to the 2021 preliminary final against Penrith.
On a nightmare night for the Storm up in the Queensland capital, they had to deal with the blow of again losing Ryan Papenhuyzen to a season-ending injury.
“Everyone’s been in touch with him,” Bellamy said of the star fullback who had only recently returned to action from a shattered knee-cap.
“It was a bit flattening, to be quite honest, for a couple of days.
“We all feel for him, what he’s been through and what he’s about to go through again. That hasn’t been easy.”
Winger Xavier Coates has already been ruled out for the Storm after suffering an ankle injury against the Broncos.
Bellamy has recalled Reimis Smith as Coates’ replacement, along with centre Justin Olam.
The pair have been in and out of Bellamy’s starting line-up this season.
“They bring a bit of experience in there,” Bellamy said.
“It wasn’t easy, leaving them out because they’ve done such a good job over a long period of time.
“Hopefully, they’ll be all excited about (playing the Roosters). I have no doubt their experience will be good for the team.”