Storm back Meaney to cover for Papenhuyzen
After spending the pre-season pretending to be Ryan Papenhuyzen, Nick Meaney's chance at Melbourne fullback arrives in the biggest game of their NRL season when they take on champions Penrith in Magic Round.
Meaney spent much of pre-season training at the back, with Papenhuyzen sidelined with an ankle injury.
He has been ruled out for at least the next month with knee and hamstring injuries, with Bulldogs recruit Meaney now stepping into the role.
Storm halfback Jahrome Hughes said he'd seen enough of Meaney, who has been in career-best form playing on the wing, to back him against the Panthers on Saturday night.
"Obviously Paps (Papenhuyzen) had a bit of injury in the pre-season, so Nick's done a lot of work there and we have confidence.
"Nick is going to take a lot of confidence - he's been great," Hughes said.
"He's been great all year - he's been thrown in a couple of different positions.
"I know he's normally a fullback but he's played on the wing and in the halves for us so it will be good for him to get his time at fullback."
Former fullback Hughes said he didn't "have the run" in his legs to wear the No.1 again, plus he wasn't too keen on trying to field Nathan Cleary's torpedo bombs.
He said they would dust off the kicking simulator from the pre-season to try to help Meaney prepare for the onslaught from the Panthers' No.7.
"I think we got a machine that we can use to hopefully interpret what Nathan can do," Hughes said.
"We've used it in the pre-season a few times, so we probably definitely need it with the way Nathan is kicking so hopefully it can help Means out a bit."
Marion Seve is the other new face in the Storm backline, brought in to cover the loss of centre Reimis Smith who requires surgery on a torn pectoral and will be out for around three months.
Seve suffered a serious knee injury midway through 2020 and only managed two NRL games late last season.
"It's good to see him playing - he has had had a pretty tough couple years," Hughes said.
"Obviously, it's devastating to see what happened to Reimis but hopefully Maz (Seve) can get his opportunity and do a great job."