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Storm halfback on standby to replace Smith

Cameron Smith is trying to overcome a back injury for Melbourne’s NRL clash against Gold Coast.Melbourne will be forced to call on makeshift hooker Ryley Jacks for their NRL clash with Gold Coast if skipper Cameron Smith doesn’t pass final fitness tests on his injured back.

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Coach Craig Bellamy says halfback Jacks has only worn the No.9 jersey before at training but they have no fit hookers left at the club, with Brandon Smith, Harry Grant and Billy Walters also injured.

Smith will travel on Friday to the Gold Coast, where the Storm will base themselves until midway through next week to freshen up with the finals looming.

He’s done limited training this week after suffering the injury in their win over Parramatta although Melbourne are still hopeful he will play as the club pushes to win successive minor premierships.

“He’s impossible to replace just with what he brings to our team,” Bellamy said of Smith.

“But we won’t take any unnecessary chances and we will put Ryley in there if we have to.”

Bellamy said Jacks had been given a crash course in playing No.9.

“A couple of things with dummy half, it’s not just following the big guys around, it’s the amount of times you’ve got to bend over to get the ball and pass it, that’s the thing they have trouble with.

“And also defending in the middle is more hectic than out on an edge, and he’s realised those couple of things during the week.”

Melbourne lead the NRL ladder going into their clash with the 12th-placed Titans but Bellamy was cautious about what the home side could bring.

He said the Titans had proven in last round’s comeback over Manly their ability to score from anywhere.

“They got some real talented footy players in that team so we know it’s going to be real tough up there,” Bellamy said.

“Their comeback against Manly was quite remarkable – probably one of the biggest turnarounds I’ve seen in a game this year.

“I’m sure after last week they will be very confident.”

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