Cameron Munster in massive boost for Melbourne Storm amid NRL star's injury woes

The crafty Melbourne playmaker is set to make his NRL return in the next fortnight.

The Melbourne Storm are set to welcome back star playmaker Cameron Munster and enforcer Nelson Asofa-Solomona within the next fortnight in a massive boost for the club after early-season injury worries. Munster (groin) and Asofa-Solomona (hamstring) have both missed the Storm's opening two games of the season due to injury.

Craig Bellamy's side has made a strong start nevertheless, holding premiers Penrith to nil in round one, before scoring a dramatic late win over the Warriors in round two. The Storm head to Newcastle this week without Munster and Asofa-Solomona but are expecting to welcome the duo back into the side following their bye in round 4.

Pictured left Cameron Munster and right Nelson Asofa-Solomona
Melbourne Storm are set to be boosted by the return of playmaker Cameron Munster and prop Nelson Asofa-Solomona within the next fortnight. Image: Getty

Storm football manager Frank Ponissi says both are in line to make their returns against the Broncos, with the club hoping Asofa-Solomona can get some minutes under his belt in the State Cup this week. "Cameron is getting closer and with the bye next week we're hopeful he'll be back for that Broncos game," Ponissi told the Storm's website.

"Nelson, if he gets through all of this week, may play in State Cup and that's a decision we'll make on Friday. But he's looking very close to playing but we want some minutes under his belt with one of our feeder teams."

The Storm will also be without Kiwi international Jahrome Hughes for the Knights clash after he was slapped with a one-match ban for pushing referee Chris Butler in the Storm's 30-26 win over the Warriors on Saturday night. It means for the match against Newcastle, Jonah Pezet will partner Tyran Wishart in the halves, with the first-choice pairing of Munster and Hughes set to return in round five.

Knights drop Jackson Hastings for Storm clash

The Knights have also named a new-look halves pairing for their clash with the Storm after Adam O'Brien decided to drop Jackson Hastings. The halfback paid the price for Newcastle's 0-2 start to the NRL campaign, with the Knights coach selecting off-season recruit Jack Cogger in his place. He will pair up with five-eighth Tyson Gamble in what will be his first start for the side since joining from Penrith.

It's not the only change for the Knights, with Greg Marzhew set for up to a month on the sidelines with a wrist injury. Enari Tuala will replace him in the side after recovering from injury. While in more positive injury news for the Knights, Jayden Brailey has been named on the bench for his first game since round six last season when he tore his ACL.

NEWCASTLE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 10: Jackson Hastings of the Knights looks on from the benchduring the NRL Elimination Final match between Newcastle Knights and Canberra Raiders at McDonald Jones Stadium on September 10, 2023 in Newcastle, Australia. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)
Adam O'Brien has decided to drop Jackson Hastings for the Knights round three clash with the Storm. (Brendon Thorne via Getty Images)

Newcastle failing to get the best out of Kalyn Ponga

NRL 360 host Paul Kent says he wasn't shocked by Hastings' axing as he believes the Knights were playing too much "sideways footy", which has not brought the best out of Dally M winner Kalyn Ponga. "Jackson Hastings is endemic of the problem at the Knights in the first two rounds in they’re just very slow in the way they play, they’re slow through the halves, they don’t have a lot of speed out wide now that Dom Young is no longer there and it’s been telling in their performance," Kent said.

"I think the team needed to spark it up, I don’t think the team is clicking and they play a lot of sideways footy. The 10 games in a row they won last year were on the back of Ponga playing some pretty impressive football and so far he’s been unable to do that because of the service inside him because they’re playing sideways footy."


Fellow panellist and league reporter Dave Riccio says Hastings had his chance at No.7 but failed to take his chance. "The basis of the Hastings decision, fans will look to the two games but he got the two trials matches too, internally at the Knights they’re saying we’ve given you four chances and it just hasn’t clicked," Riccio said.

"They gave Hastings the keys to the car, and they said this is your team, come and show us what you’ve got, and you’ll get the head start. He got the head start, Round 1, Round 2, duck egg, duck egg... The key for Adam O’Brien is he can’t afford to lose Hastings because he’s going to need him again this year, so how he handles this is important."

with AAP

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