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Storm youngster could fill Widdop vacancy

Melbourne five-eighth Gareth Widdop may have played his last game for the NRL club but it seems they may not have to look too far for his replacement.
Storm youngster could fill Widdop vacancy
by AAP

By Ed Jackson

BRISBANE, June 25 AAP - Melbourne five-eighth Gareth Widdop may have played his last game for the NRL club but it seems they may not have to look too far for his replacement.

Widdop is facing at least 12 weeks on the sidelines after undergoing surgery to have his right hip relocated following the Storm's 18-12 loss to Gold Coast on Monday night.

The England international is leaving Melbourne to join St George Illawarra at season's end but with doctors finding no fractures there is hope Widdop could still play a part for the Storm in this year's finals.

While veteran half Brett Finch looms as the man most likely to replace Widdop in the short-term, the performance of debutant Ben Hampton against the Titans shows coach Craig Bellamy has a good prospect coming through.

The former Queensland Under-20s captain scored two tries and made 122m from 15 runs in a stellar first NRL outing and Bellamy was impressed with the way the 179cm youngster had stood up to some serious physical treatment by the Titans.

"He's a tough kid, he's only a small kid but he's tough," Bellamy said.

"They got stuck into him and we probably expected that being a small guy and being his first grade debut ... but he didn't lay down.

"I was real proud of his effort."

Hampton, who filled in at fullback in place of fellow north Queensland product Billy Slater against the Titans, also won praise from the Queensland and Australia star for his performance.

"Great game by Benny Hampton," Slater wrote on Twitter.

"Sure to hear more of that name."

Regularly a half, Hampton said his debut had left him with mixed emotions, particularly after the Storm were beaten.

"It just makes you want to have another crack tomorrow so you can work on your mistakes or you can try and make up for things that didn't go right in the game," Hampton told the Storm's website.

"There was a lot of things that I didn't do out there that I probably should have and that makes you just want to play again right now so you can fix those mistakes."


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