Scott Drinkwater will get a second chance to stamp himself as Craig Bellamy’s first choice to take over from Billy Slater when the Storm take on North Queensland in their final 2019 trial in Mackay in Saturday.
A minor injury suffered by Jahrome Hughes – the logical challenger to Drinkwater’s hopes of snaring the fullback jersey – will see Drinkwater join first-grade regulars Brodie Croft, Cameron Munster and Cameron Smith in the Melbourne spine.
Rep centre Will Chambers (ankle) is the only big name missing from a Melbourne side that appears set to use at least part of the match as a dress rehearsal for their round one clash with Brisbane at AAMI Park.
Hughes will now need to rely on impressing Bellamy on the training paddock in order to get a starting spot for the opening match of the Telstra Premiership.
All the Storm’s big name forwards are set for game time in Mackay, including hard-running lock Dale Finucane.
The newly-appointed Melbourne vice-captain believes the return of some big names for the Cowboys clash will cause some selection headaches.
"I think it is a positive thing as it creates competition among the team and it’s only going to make individuals better," Finucane said at AAMI Park on Tuesday.
"If it makes individuals better, it is making our team better. And it's healthy to have competition for spots, as it will make the team better in the long run."
Bellamy is expected to give his starters at least the first 20 minutes of the trial match to show they are on track for round one.
Queensland back-rower Felise Kaufusi is looking forward getting into game mode following a gruelling pre-season.
“I think Craig just loves flogging us," Kaufusi said on Tuesday. "Every year he somehow finds a way to make it tougher."
Storm squad to face Cowboys: 1. Scott Drinkwater, 2. Suliasi Vunivalu, 3. Marion Seve, 4. Curtis Scott, 5. Josh Addo-Carr, 6. Cameron Munster, 7. Brodie Croft, 8. Christian Welch, 9. Cameron Smith, 10. Nelson Asofa-Solomona, 11. Felise Kaufusi, 12. Kenneath Bromwich, 13. Dale Finucane, 14. Brandon Smith, 15. Tom Eisenhuth, 16. Tui Kamikamica, 17. Jesse Bromwich, 18. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, 19. Joe Stimson, 20. Ryan Papenhuyzen, 21. Sandor Earl, 22. Billy Walters, 23. Justin Olam, 24. Cheyse Blair, 25. Pat Kaufusi