Johns in frame for Storm halfback start
Cooper Johns is in the frame to start the year in Melbourne's No.7 jersey after impressing during the NRL pre-season.
The son of former Newcastle star turned TV host Matthew Johns and nephew of legendary halfback Andrew Johns, the 20-year-old has won a fan in Storm winger Josh Addo-Carr.
The Test flyer was quick to name Johns as a stand-out from Melbourne's two-week training camp in Geelong last month.
"Cooper Johns has been here for the last few seasons but he's really grown as a player," Addo-Carr said.
"He's a really silky, smart player and if he fills out a bit more, which he's really trying to do, I have no doubt he will be in the first grade squad."
After impressing with the Storm's Queensland Cup feeder team, Sunshine Coast Falcons Johns was promoted to Melbourne's senior squad last June but is still waiting to make his NRL debut.
He was named in the NSW State of Origin under-20 side before being ruled out with injury.
The Storm have struggled to really nail down a halfback in the two seasons since Cooper Cronk's departure.
Johns will be competing with Jahrome Hughes and Ryley Jacks for the starting spot, with out-of-favour Brodie Croft joining Brisbane.
Coach Craig Bellamy has described young Johns' football attributes as a mix of those of his father and uncle, although he is taller and leaner than both of them.
Melbourne also have vacancies in the centres with veteran Will Chambers leaving to play rugby in Japan and Curtis Scott signing with Canberra.
Justin Olam and Marion Seve appear the front-runners after winning starts last season but the centre spots are wide open.
Nicho Hines could find himself converted from fullback after a big pre-season, while Brenko Lee is pushing for selection at his fourth NRL club.
"Juzzy (Olam) had a really good back-end of the season and was a strike weapon for us but there are other centres coming up through," Addo-Carr said.
"For Juzzy it's going to be play consistent football and earn that spot but it's going to be a tough decision."
© AAP 2020