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'He certainly wouldn't be out of his depth' - Storm coach backs youngster Hughes for Kiwis call-up

Craig Bellamy is convinced Jahrome Hughes is good enough to debut for the Kiwis but the Melbourne Storm fullback doesn't know where he'd fit in.

The versatile Hughes showed why he's regarded as one of the big NRL improvers of 2019 with a standout performance against the Warriors in Auckland, bagging a brace and filling the role of injured halfback Brodie Croft for more than half of the 32-10 win.

Bellamy said his off-season anxiety that retired legend Billy Slater was irreplaceable at fullback had eased since the 24-year-old New Zealander donned the No.1 jersey in week one.

His seamless mid-match transition to the halves underlined why he will be in New Zealand coach Michael Maguire's thoughts when he mulls his Test squad to face Tonga on June 22 at Mt Smart Stadium.

"To swap positions and play the game he did, he certainly wouldn't be out of his depth if he got picked for the Kiwis," Bellamy said.

Hughes toured with the Kiwis to England last November but didn't play in any of the three Tests.

He figured it would be hard for Maguire to squeeze him in given Roger Tuivasa- Sheck and 2018 captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak are fullback options, while there are a number of halves available with Test experience.

"I've had a look at it but they've got some good players in the Kiwis and I'm just trying to play consistent footy with the Melbourne Storm," Hughes said, before agreeing a utility bench role could be his best shot.

"If they ask me to do that, I'd definitely do that. Playing for your country is something I've been wanting to do since I was a little kid.

"If that comes calling I'd jump at it."

Hughes said Slater had been an enormous influence and counted himself fortunate to receive regular tutelage from a modern great.

"He's got a massive influence on me. He comes in every week and just gives me tips," Hughes said.

"If I need him, he's just a phone call away. I'm so lucky and we're so lucky."


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