Will Chambers is out following a shoulder charge. Photo: Getty Images
Melbourne Storm will be without centre Will Chambers for the next two matches.
Chambers accepted an early plea from the NRL judiciary on Wednesday after being cited for a shoulder charge on St George Illawarra full back Josh Dugan during the Storm’s win over the Dragons on Monday night.
Chambers will miss the Storm’s clash against Canberra Raiders in Canberra on Sunday and the annual Anzac night game against New Zealand Warriors.
Prop Dayne Weston was named as the 18th man for the visit to Canberra although Chambers’ absence could open the way for Mahe Fonua or Ben Hampton to return to the senior side as his replacement.
The Storm are also working hard to prepare for the Raiders, a match which could see their record improve to 5-3 [win-loss], but their miracle post-siren win over the Dragons continues to draw major discussions in NRL circles.
The NRL publicly admitted on Tuesday Storm winger Young Tonumaipea played the ball less than a second after the siren which, under league rules, should have seen the referee end the match and not allow the Storm’s final play.
Storm prop Tohu Harris was a key player in the victory and made one of the pivotal moves in the match-winning try when he caught a long pass in the centre of the field and drew in Dragons defenders, setting up a Storm overlap on his left. His pass to Cooper Cronk exposed a huge hole in the Dragon’s defence.
As television sports news services continued to replay the Storm’s final try this week, Harris said he still struggled to believe how that play came together.
“It was a pretty hectic finish but it was very exciting after it happened,” Harris said.
“[When I caught the ball] I just felt everything open up and saw their whole side running from one side to the other.
“So I thought I better get rid of it because I didn’t want to get caught with it – I saw space on the outside so I thought I would get the ball out there.
“Soon as I gave it to Cooper I saw only two of their defenders and a whole line of our players so I thought we are a good chance.
“The boys did well to finish it off.”
Harris said the Storm continued to push themselves to make better starts to their matches and avoid falling behind, as they have done several times in the opening five rounds.
“We are happy with our attitude in defence and I thought we made some improvements there,” Harris said.
“But we can’t keep putting ourselves under pressure like that and it’s not good for anyone to have games like that where you have to come back in the last 20 minutes to get the win.
“We have to do the hard work first to make it easier on ourselves towards the end of the game.”
Harris was surprisingly thrust into the role of penalty kick taker in the Storm’s loss to Canterbury-Bankstown earlier in the season when captain Cam Smith was a late withdrawal.
“I used to do some kicking when I was growing up and playing rugby union,” Harris said.
“I hadn’t done much practice before that match so I was happy I made at least one of those shots.”
The Storm visit Canberra on Sunday at 3pm.