Storm’s Cronk a chance to face Bulldogs

Superstar halfback Cooper Cronk could give Melbourne and the Maroons a huge boost with an early return from injury to face the Bulldogs.

Storm coach Craig Bellamy said Cronk was a chance to play in their Monday night NRL clash at Belmore Sports Ground.

The Test No.7 has been sidelined since injuring his knee in round 13 against the Raiders.

Both Melbourne and the Maroons have suffered without the veteran game-breaker, with the Storm losing two matches and Queensland falling to NSW in game two of the State of Origin series.

Losing their past four matches against the Bulldogs, his return to the Storm line-up couldn’t be more timely.

But Bellamy said Cronk needed to take part in at least one of their remaining three training sessions to play.

“I think he’s a chance but at this stage he would be doubtful, he hasn’t trained with us yet,” Bellamy said.

“We’d like to see him get a couple sessions under his belt, we’re not going to do anything stupid.

“We won’t play him if he doesn’t train, there’s no way that will happen.”

With the bye next round Melbourne may resist recalling Cronk and instead give him extra time to prepare for the Origin decider on July 8 in Brisbane.

Bellamy said the club’s medical staff, as well as Cronk himself, would make the final call.

“He’s an experienced player so he will know if he’s right to play,” Bellamy said.

“We will take the safe option as we don’t want him to come out to play too early and be out for another three or four weeks.

“That’s not good for our club and it’s not good for Cooper.”

Meanwhile, Bellamy expects Bulldogs skipper James Graham to play despite not being due back from a hamstring injury suffered earlier this month.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if James plays,” Bellamy said.

“He’s a really important player for them but having said that they’ve got a really strong bench and really good depth in the forwards.”

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