Hawke's Bay product Tohu Harris is to make his debut for Melbourne as a starting back-rower in Friday night's World Club Challenge against Leeds.
Harris, a 21-year-old who was recruited from Wellington three years ago in a swoop that almost claimed Super Rugby star TJ Perenara as well, was handed his bow by coach Craig Bellamy on Wednesday when a 19-man squad was announced in Leeds for the Headingley clash.
Harris, whose father Paul is flying in for the game, replaces the unavailable Kevin Proctor, who has a damaged medial ligament in his left knee.
"He's probably one of the biggest players in our squad, outside of Jason Ryles, physically,'' Storm football manager Frank Ponissi said.
"He's very quiet but he loves reading and is very respectful and quietly determined.
"Three years ago, when we played here, three players made their NRL debut. Hep Cahill who is now at Widnes, Rory Kostjaysn who has become a regular NRL player and Jesse Bromwich who went on to be a Test player.''
Former New Zealand Test centre Junior Sau was among the members of the touring squad to miss out on selection.
Coach Craig Bellamy will shave two players from the bench an hour before kick-off.
Melbourne (v Leeds, Friday): Billy Slater, Sisi Waqa, Justin O'Neill, Will Chambers, Mahe Fonua; Gareth Widdop, Cooper Cronk; Ryan Hinchcliffe, Tohu Harris, Ryan Hoffman, Jesse Bromwich, Cameron Smith (c), Bryan Norrie. Res: Brett Finch, Jason Ryles, Siosia Vave, Lagi Setu, Kenny Bromwich, Junior Moors (two to be omitted).
Play Virtual & Fantasy NRL
Test your tipping skills with Virtual or create your dream team with Fantasy NRL and be in to win a slice of over $7,000 in prizes.
Get in the game and sign up now. Competition kicks off 7 March.