Peter Sterling says Storm coach Craig Bellamy will soon be forced to make a difficult decision on who takes on the No.9 jersey.

Rugby league great Peter Sterling says Storm coach Craig Bellamy will soon be forced to make a brutal selection call that will either force an Origin star or a Test player out of the side.

The debate over who should replace Cameron Smith as the club’s long-term hooker has been raging for 12 months now and it came into focus in their win over the Roosters, with Harry Grant playing a starring role after returning from injury.

Brandon Smith, who had done an excellent job to that point, started the game at hooker and put in another impressive shift for the Storm in his utility role, yet the team really sparked into life when Grant was injected off the bench midway through the first half.

Sterling predicted that same blueprint would be followed for a number of weeks yet, but said Bellamy would soon be forced into a difficult choice.

“I think Craig Bellamy will stay with this formula for a number of weeks – bringing Harry Grant off the bench after maybe 20 minutes,” Sterling told Wide World of Sports’ Sterlo’s Wrap.

“But I think we are going to get to a stage in the second half of the season where you can’t deny Harry is an 80-minute player and he will be out there starting.”

Sterling said that realisation would force a rethink that would have an impact on how one of his other stars were used, with Smith’s most likely role as a mobile lock in the middle of the field, where rep players Dale Finucane and Nelson Asofa-Solomona ply their trade.

“It will be interesting to see how Craig Bellamy uses Brandon Smith, Nelson Asofa-Solomona, and you’ve got to throw Dale Finucane in the mix very shortly. It’s a nice situation to be in,” Sterling said.

“But I think it will change. I think we will see Grant come off the bench for a few weeks, but then a decision will be made the further we get into the season.”

Following Grant’s emergence, which included a match-defining debut appearance for Queensland’s Origin side last year, Sterling says the No.9 duties at Test level should remain with Damien Cook, who is now under “pressure” to hang on to the role.

“If you were picking a side tomorrow, you still go with Damien Cook,” Sterling said.

“Harry Grant hasn’t overtaken him yet. Let’s not rush, he’s clearly a talent.

“Reed Mahoney is going to put pressure on Harry when it comes to Origin football.

“When we come to the Australian side, Grant is going to put a lot of pressure on Damien Cook, but Cook is there at the moment.”

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