<
>

Storm's Smith cleared of facial fracture, Manly's Schuster avoids ban

Melbourne have been handed an extra boost in their bid to reach a fifth grand final in six years with Brandon Smith cleared of any facial fracture.

Smith lasted just 18 minutes before being forced off the field in Friday night's 40-12 qualifying final rout of Manly at Sunshine Coast Stadium following a head clash.

While Storm doctors were confident mid-match of no structural damage, there were fears after fulltime that Smith could have suffered a break.

However the 25-year-old New Zealand international hooker took to social media on Saturday morning to confirm there were no longer any such concerns, paving the way for him to be fit to play in their preliminary final in a fortnight.

The news will come as welcome news to Melbourne, after Smith showed in his short cameo why he is such an important cog in the seemingly unstoppable Storm machine .

The nuggety No.9 set up two tries as Melbourne romped to a point-a-minute 16-0 lead before coming off second best in a head clash with Josh Aloiai.

"He is starting to swell up but he's got chubby cheeks to start with so it's hard to work out where the swelling is," Christian Welch joked afterwards.

"But he is such an important guy for us.

"I am not sure what the (recovery) timeline is but it is a huge benefit having a full two weeks to get back up for a prelim."

The Storm earned a week off with the six tries to two thumping, with winger Josh Addo-Carr expected to also be able to return in the Suncorp Stadium preliminary final.

And there are no longer fitness concerns for two of their biggest stars - five-eighth Cameron Munster and fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen.

Munster was in doubt ahead of kick-off after being hospitalised last week with an infected knee - not that onlookers could tell on Friday night.

The playmaker celebrated his 150th game by setting up two tries and putting on a kicking masterclass to help Melbourne keep a tight leash on Manly No.1 Tom Trbojevic.

"Him just playing even if he is not 100 per cent, it really gives a lot of confidence to the group having him in the starting group," Welch said of Munster.

Papenhuyzen has also bounced back to his best after recovering from concussion issues, scoring either side of halftime to take his try tally in the past fortnight to five.

"I have had my fair share of head knocks and it's tough (coming back)," Welch said.

"It is not easy getting your confidence back but I would like to think that he's turned the corner."

Meanwhile, Manly will have Josh Schuster available for their NRL semi-final on Friday after the second-rower avoided a ban for a dangerous throw.

The Sea Eagles picked up a much-needed piece of good news out of their flogging by Melbourne when Schuster was handed only a grade-one charge on Saturday.

The star rookie will be able to accept an $1150 fine for his tackle on Storm playmaker Jahrome Hughes that landed him on report after it went beyond the horizontal.

Fellow tackler Karl Lawton was not charged, meaning he can also play in the do-or-die semi-final.

The Sea Eagles did not have any injuries out of the loss to Melbourne, but have one week to work out how to prevent other teams shutting down gun fullback Tom Trbojevic as the Storm did.