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Widdop unfazed by added Storm duties
Guy Hand
18:23 AEST Mon May 28 2012

Melbourne five-eighth Gareth Widdop says State of Origin time adds excitement rather than trepidation for the Storm players left holding the fort.

Englishman Widdop is among those who don't play a part in the Origin series and the gruelling schedule of backing up for NRL matches as soon as 48 hours after representative games.

The 23-year-old knows he is one Storm player who must carry an added load with stars like Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater missing large slabs of training through Origin duty.

And he says he's ready for the responsibility - shown by how he handled organisational duties ahead of and during the Storm's comfortable win over the Broncos last Friday night.

"They're key players to our team, everybody knows that. But we don't look at it that way that now they're out, we're going to struggle," Widdop said on Monday.

"We've got people in place who can step up and do a job ... they've got a role to do in the team and they're going to do it.

"It's more of an excitement factor - they're not here so everybody else has got to step up and we thrive off that."

Widdop and forward Ryan Hinchcliffe helped marshal Melbourne's training sessions during a training camp in the Victorian surf coast town of Torquay last week.

To help ease the load on regulars Cronk and Smith, Widdop and Hinchcliffe started in key playmaking positions to get their side rolling in the 34-10 win over Brisbane.

Originally from northern England before emigrating to Australia as a teenager, Widdop admits he is in awe of how players like Smith, Cronk and Slater back up from Origin.

"It must be really, really tough. It's one of the pinnacles of rugby league, and for them to go out and back up one or two days later is just a huge effort," Widdop said.

"During this Origin period, they're going to be away a lot.

"So it's time for myself, Hinchy and Hoffy (second-rower Ryan Hoffman) to take control of this team."

NRL leaders Melbourne play the ninth-placed Warriors on Sunday, holding a six-point margin atop the ladder and a massive points differential of 199.