Bellamy backs Croft to lead young Storm

Brodie Croft will need to step up for the Storm in the absence of Cameron Munster. (AAP)

Melbourne have lost six players to State of Origin duties for their clash against St George on Thursday.

Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy has backed 21-year-old halfback Brodie Croft to step up as chief playmaker in the absence of Queensland star Cameron Munster.

Croft will help guide Munster's replacement at five-eighth Billy Walters, the son of Maroons coach Kevin Walters, through his NRL debut against St George on Thursday night.

Croft is only in his second season as a genuine NRL first-grader but Bellamy said he'd take on more responsibility with six players out through State of Origin.

"Crofty gets a little bit more say in what we're doing on the field on Thursday," Bellamy said.

"He's been doing that role a fair bit since Origin started, so he's handled that quite well. And with Billy there making his debut we'll expect him to step up a notch."

Storm teenager Tino Fa'asuamaleaui will also make his NRL debut off the bench.

The Dragons are missing five players through Origin and Bellamy acknowledged it was a unique clash of inexperience, but said there would still be plenty of veterans out there.

Bellamy pointed to his skipper Cameron Smith who plays a record-extending 399th NRL game and rival hooker Cameron McInnes.

"There's an unknown but you get excited about kids getting opportunities," Bellamy said.

"It's exciting for us as a club as to how they handle it. There's been occasions where some guys haven't handled it but these boys will definitely be ready.

"It will give us an idea of what those blokes are capable of doing for our team. There has been a lot of times where young blokes have come into our team and produced something that really adds to our team.

"There's a lot of inexperience there but both sides have got some experience around them and I'm sure those guys will help them out."

Melbourne are six points clear at the top of the table heading into round 16 which Bellamy described as "surreal" before adding the ladder doesn't concern him.

Source AAP

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