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STORM HOPING LUCKY SEVENS WILL REVEAL NEXT YOUNG GUN
January 13, 2003
Melbourne Storm will be hoping to unearth another Billy Slater at the rugby league World Sevens later this month after naming a youthful line-up ahead of the two-day tournament commencing January 24.
Aside from naming veteran winger Matt Geyer as captain for the international competition, Storm coach Craig Bellamy has employed a youth policy with the average age of the remaining nine players being just 21.
Last year's Sevens tournament provided the rugby league world's first glimpse of rookie sensation Slater, who has since established himself as one of the National Rugby League's most exciting young stars after a stellar debut season last year.
Slater was unheard of 12 months ago but quickly turned heads following an impressive Sevens tournament in what was a prelude to the rest of the 2003 season - the 20-year-old was the Storm's leading try-scorer last year with 19 touchdowns.
According to Geyer, the World Sevens could uncover some new faces capable of causing quite a stir in the NRL this year, with former Penrith fullback Steve Turner topping Geyer's list of players to watch.
'I think we've got the potential there to find another Billy Slater,' Geyer said.
'I'm really excited to see Steve Turner run around at the Sevens, he's played first grade with Penrith before and funnily enough a lot of people have been saying he plays a lot like (Storm fullback) Robbie Ross.
'I guess I'm in a great position to be the judge of that seeing as I've played with Boo (Ross) for six years and I'm also Steve's training partner.
'While I don't think it's fair to place that comparison on Steve I do know he works extremely hard and he never leaves anything in the tank at training.
'Hopefully we can unearth another great young talent, whether it's Steve Turner or someone else.'
The Sevens will also mark the return from injury of Storm utility Andrew McFadden. McFadden will play the Sevens after overcoming an ongoing groin injury that saw the former Canberra and Parramatta halfback restricted to just one game in 2003.
Limited first grade experience has been added to the Storm side with the inclusion of Matt King (4 NRL matches), Dustin Cooper (4), Nathan Friend (8) and Rob Tanielu (3).
Nuggetty forward Glen Turner along with youngsters Luke Dyer and Antonio Kaufusi round out the Storm's 10-man side.
When compared to January last year, Geyer is in no doubt as to the strength of the Storm's list heading into the 2004 season.
'There are a lot of young kids in the team that will be out to show the coach what they can do under a bit of pressure in first grade football,' the former NSW winger explained.
'This time last season you could pick our backline for the year, except for Billy Slater, and there wouldn't have been too many arguments.
'This year, however, we've got so much competition for the backline positions that a lot of guys are really out to prove a point. We've got a lot of young blokes, and even some older players, who have no right to say that a position is definitely theirs.'
MELBOURNE STORM TEAM FOR THE WORLD SEVENS TO BE PLAYED AT AUSSIE STADIUM, JANUARY 24 & 25:
1. Steve Turner 6. Matt Geyer (c)
2. Luke Dyer 7. Andrew McFadden
3. Matt King 8. Antonio Kaufusi
4. Glen Turner 9. Nathan Friend
5. Dustin Cooper 10. Robert Tanielu
The Storm has been pooled with Lebanon, the Bulldogs and the St George Illawarra Dragons and will play Lebanon in its opening match on Saturday January 24 at 2.40pm.
For further information contact
James Avery: Phone (03) 9421 3222 Mobile: 0411 623 024
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