Brutal Storm axing tipped for finals

2 weeks ago 6
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Rugby league Immortal Andrew Johns fears star utility Nicho Hynes won't be part of the Storm's top 17 for finals as the premiership favourites get back to full strength amid an incredible winning streak.

Hynes, who is bound for Cronulla next season, has reaped the benefits of the Storm's injury crisis this season, and may end up being the club's top Dally M vote poller.

After coming off the interchange in three of the first four games of the season, the 25-year-old has since started at fullback on 14 occasions due to the concussion woes of first-choice No.1 Ryan Papenhuyzen.

He has also spent some time at five-eighth due to short-term injuries to playmakers Cameron Munster and Jahrome Hughes.

Regardless of where he's been slotted, Hynes has consistently been among the Storm's best performers, earning him an 18th man jersey for NSW in State of Origin III.

Yet there is a very real selection cloud hanging over Hynes going into the finals due to Harry Grant's recovery from a recent hamstring injury. Grant is a walk-up starter in the Storm's 17 but it remains to be seen whether or not coach Craig Bellamy elevates him to the starting hooker role, which Brandon Smith is currently holding down.

If not, a bench containing both Grant and Hynes could potentially leave the Storm light for big boppers against the game's premier forward packs.

Nicho Hynes of the Storm is tackled during the round nine NRL match between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Melbourne Storm at Stadium Australia on May 06, 2021, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images) (Getty)

"I can't see him being in the 17, simple as that," Johns told Wide World of Sports' Freddy and The Eighth. "It's unfortunate for Nicho.

"If you have a look, I think Harry Grant will come off the bench moving forward in the big games with Brandon Smith starting at hooker.

"Ryan Papenhuyzen's getting back to that form, so he will be starting fullback."

For Melbourne's match with Parramatta on Saturday, Hynes has been named in the No.17 jersey off the interchange.

Hynes was on the interchange in that same jersey for Melbourne's win over the Panthers in last year's grand final but didn't make it onto the field.

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With the business end of things just two weeks away as finals football nears, Johns believes the Storm will carry three traditional forwards on the bench along with Grant.

"He may squeeze in on the bench, but for mine, I think they will carry Harry Grant on the bench and have three big forwards," Johns said.

"Unless there's an injury, I can't see him making the 17."

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