Melbourne Storm’s recruitment strategy for 2011 was dictated by their dire circumstances last year. A salary cap stretched to the limit by the dodgy deals of past administrators left little cash to replace a host of departing stars. So the addition of journeyman props such as Adam Woolnough and Troy Thompson filled out the list in positions where it was weak. But Storm’s Round 1 line-up won’t be just veteran-filled because coach Craig Bellamy is set to back a youth-led recovery. As many as six players aged 22 or younger could be in his 17, with 10 fledglings set to form the core of Storm’s new look outfit now and into the future. Wingers Matt Duffie, 20, and 19-year-old Justin O’Neill made try scoring their business last season taking their fast-tracked opportunities to make a serious impression. Centre Chase Stanley has already played for his country but is still only 21 and, despite an injury setback, could win the race for Greg Inglis’ centre spot. Up the middle 21-year-old forward Kevin Proctor, the wild-haired one, played 22 games in 2010 often starting in the back row and coach Craig Bellamy has the former Junior Kiwi high in his plans for the 2011 assault. Hulking 22-year-old prop forward Jesse Bromwich, already touted as a future star by Woolnough and Thompson, is set to build on his seven NRL games and take up a permanent position in the Storm pack. And Englishman Gareth Widdop, who made his international debut last year at 21, will assume the all-important position of five-eighth. That’s a youth lead recovery by any measure, and it doesn’t include boom Kiwi centre Elijah Niko who, at just 20, has been compared to Israel Folau, but isn’t yet ready for the NRL. Then there’s Luke Kelly, a 21-year-old half-back, forward Robbie Rochow, 20, and prop Mitchel Johnson, who won’t be 21 until May but was best afield in Storm’s first trial this year. Bellamy said he was prepared to back young players in and the enthusiasm that created, with opportunities to come, is palpable. “We’re going to have to, and I’m happy to back them,” he said. They may have expected another season of learning under stars ousted by last year’s salary cap dramas, but now they are charged with maintaining the standards those guys set. They have to make Melbourne Storm successful again, and they know how. Duffie, O’Neill, Widdop, Bromwich, Proctor, Kelly and Rochow were all part of Storm’s premiership-winning under-20 team in 2009.

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