Aubusson may play for VRL Tigers
By STEVE SPINKS and AAP
BALLINA'S James Aubusson has been named in an 18-man Melbourne Storm squad for the NRL blockbuster against the Canterbury Bulldogs at Telstra Stadium in Sydney tonight.
However, the Storm utility player has also been named for action in the Sunbury Tigers Victorian Rugby League side for the weekend.
What a contrast. The Storm will be playing in front of thousands of people at Sydney's premier sports stadium.
Sunbury will be playing at Loft Reserve, Newport, in front of perhaps a few dozen interested onlookers.
Eight Melbourne Storm players, worth several hundreds of thousands of dollars, have been released to play for Sunbury and a second team, the Waverly/Oakleigh Panthers, in two scratch matches over the next two weekends.
With the Storm's feeder team Brisbane Norths failing to make the finals of the Queensland Cup, Melbourne are desperate to keep their squad match fit with the NRL finals only two weeks away.
New Zealand representative prop Adam Blair will join Aubusson and fellow Storm squad members Ryan Shortland, Aiden Tolman, Matt Rua, Russell Aitken, Sam Tagataese and Sika Manu with the balance of the teams filled up with players from sides that have been knocked out of the six-team VRL competition.
VRL general manager Joe Messina said that the amateur Victorian league players were looking forward to mixing it with and against the Storm squad members.
"We were looking at having them involved with the teams in the finals but we felt, and other clubs felt, that it may have compromised the finals," Messina told the Melbourne media.
Waverley and Sunbury have not made the finals but, by all reports, players are pretty keen to go out of Mad Monday and get on the field this weekend."