The Storm youngster gunning for Hoffman’s spot
VETERAN Ryan Hoffman says sentimentality won't guarantee him a starting Melbourne Storm jersey after making his return to the NRL champions following a three-year absence.
The 34-year-old has been named in the run-on side for Melbourne's World Club Challenge clash with Super League champions Leeds at AAMI Park on Friday night.
But Hoffman, who rejoined the Storm from the Warriors in a swap for Tohu Harris, says he'll need to perform at his best to keep players like young gun Joe Stimson at bay.
Felise Kaufusi, who had a breakout 2017 season to earn a Kangaroos World Cup call-up, appears to have a stranglehold on the other second row spot.
"There's always a fight," said Hoffman, who started his NRL career with the Storm in 2003.
"Young Joe Stimson did a great job filling in for Tohu last year and on the other side of the field there's Felise who played for Australia last year so I'm under no illusions.
"We've got a lot of depth in the back row and I've got to make sure that my form is up to standard week in and out."
This WCC is Hoffman's fifth - a record at the Storm - having also played in one for Wigan against St George Illawarra.
Hoffman says they are always tight affairs, with two champion clubs going head to head to claim the title of world's best.
"Traditionally all the WCC they've played in have been quite aggressive," Hoffman said.
"They like to get up in your face and set the tone and we expect nothing less.
"They're a proud club and they're used to winning trophies and they haven't come down here for a holiday."
The match sees 20-year-old Brodie Croft given first crack at making the halfback jersey his own, following Storm legend Cooper Croft's shift to the Sydney Roosters.
Hoffman said Croft was up to the full-time job.
"The club's done really well bringing him along slowly but Craig is certain he's ready to be on the world stage," Hoffman said.
"He's had a fantastic pre-season.
"There will be mistakes, that's what comes with rugby league but it's how he reacts and he's a good confident young kid."