Storm and Maroons fans have had their spirits boosted with Craig Bellamy hinting that Cooper Cronk could return on Monday night against the Bulldogs.

Cronk has not played since injuring his knee back in Round 13.

 

In his absence the Storm have lost two in a row and slipped outside the top four while the Maroons suffered defeat in Game Two to leave the State of Origin series tentatively poised at one-all.

The playmaker's importance to both club and state is enormous and with the bye next week, the Storm may be tempted to hold him back in order to regain full fitness ahead of the Origin decider on July 8.

However Bellamy refused to shut the door on Cronk making his return at Belmore Sports Ground this coming Monday night.

It will all depend on whether the 31-year-old can partake in at least one of the club's three remaining sessions this week.

"I think he's a chance but at this stage he would be doubtful, he hasn't trained with us yet," Bellamy said.

"We'd like to see him get a couple sessions under his belt, we're not going to do anything stupid.

"We always say that when we've got one of our players coming back we take the safe option… we don't want him to come out to play too early and be out for another three or four weeks. That's not good for our club and it's not good for Cooper.

"We won't play him if he doesn’t train, there's no way that will happen."

The Storm will look to overturn their fortunate against fellow top eight side Canterbury-Bankstown, against whom they have lost the past four games including last year's semi-final.

The Bulldogs' forward pack has provided huge headaches for Melbourne in those recent losses but will be significantly weakened unless skipper James Graham can make a premature return from a hamstring injury that has sidelined him for the past two games.

"I wouldn't be surprised if James plays," Bellamy said. 

"He's had a couple of weeks off but having said that they've got a really good bench… strong depth"

"We are not expecting anything too different if James plays or doesn’t play. He certainly adds some finesse with the footy but they've got some other guys who have done that as well."

Melbourne will travel to take on Canterbury-Bankstown next Monday night with kickoff at 7pm.

This article first appeared on NRL.com