Ex-Melbourne star set for clash with Storm

From self-confessed "no-man's land" to an emotional homecoming to AAMI Park, Will Chambers can barely believe it.

Especially when the two-time Melbourne premiership winner will be lining up against the Storm when he makes his improbable NRL comeback with Cronulla on Friday night.

The sledging centre was for so long Cronulla's public enemy No.1 during his intense rivalry with the Sharks and even threatened to deny the club their maiden title when he crossed late-on to give the Storm the lead in the helter-skelter 2016 grand final.

"It is a bit of a weird one. All my family's still down in Melbourne. I had some tears in my eyes yesterday," Chambers said on Wednesday after being plucked from reserve grade to replace fellow former Test star Josh Dugan in the Cronulla centres.

"Obviously it was a bit of a surprise. To be honest, I thought footy was all over a couple of months ago.

"It's all come along pretty quickly.

"I was sort of in no-man's land and didn't really know what was going to happen and where I was going in the next stage of my life.

"Then all of a sudden I got a phone call and that was Cronulla and the nerves sunk in and I thought 'geez, what a place to turn up at'.

"But obviously thinking back over it, everything in life happens for a reason and now I get the opportunity to pull on the jersey this weekend and provide and hopefully do something special for this organisation."

Chambers hasn't played an NRL match since Melbourne's 2019 preliminary final loss to the Sydney Roosters 19 months ago.

He needed a two-and-a-half-hour pep talk from his former Storm mentor and "father figure" Craig Bellamy to convince the veteran code-hopper to take up the Sharks offer.

"I always believed in my own ability and always thought I had something to provide and give back to rugby league," Chambers said.

"But I also realise age is a number and it's a number where most organisations aren't willing to give a 32-year-old an opportunity.

"I've played the game since I was four years old and I've had two stints away from it and until it's taken away from you, you don't really understand how much you do love something."

But Chambers understood all too well how much the Sharks might have hated him, so he also made a point of phoning Cronulla's premiership-winning captain Paul Gallen and former Kangaroos teammates Wade Graham and Andrew Fifita to see if he'd be welcomed in the Shire.

"I wanted to make sure I had their blessings in coming here because there was some pretty offensive stuff back in the day on the footy field," Chambers said.

"As 'Gal' said 'what happens on the footy field, stays on the footy field'."