None of Melbourne’s Big Three of Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater will play at this weekend’s NRL Auckland Nines, the Storm has confirmed.
The World Cup winning Kangaroos trio were all left out of coach Craig Bellamy’s 16-man squad announced Monday for the inaugural event.
NSW back-rower Ryan Hoffman will captain the side, with stars Will Chambers, Justin O’Neill, Kevin Proctor, Jesse Bromwich (emergency 17th man) also included alongside Canterbury recruit Joel Romelo.
Winger Matt Duffie has been included after a successful comeback from knee and shoulder injury in the under-strength Storm’s 20-12 loss to Canberra on Saturday.
Tohu Harris will play his first official game since being bumped out of New Zealand’s World Cup squad by Sonny Bill Williams.
The Nines takes place at Eden Park on Saturday and Sunday.
Melbourne’s squad: Ryan Hoffman (c), Will Chambers, Sisa Waqa, Joel Romelo, Mahe Fonua, Matt Duffie, Young Tonumaipea, Mitch Garbutt, Justin O’Neill, Tohu Harris, Matthew Lodge, Kevin Proctor, Slade Griffin, Kurt Mann, Cameron Munster, Richie Kennar, Jesse Bromwich.