Ryan Hoffman
Set for Storm return

Ryan Hoffman is on the verge of returning to Melbourne Storm next season as the Storm takes its first significant step towards replacing New Zealand international Adam Blair.

Melbourne football manager Frank Ponissi confirmed an approach had been made to the club on behalf of Hoffman, who left the Storm at the end of last season to play with Wigan.

“We have had an approach about him potentially coming home,” Ponissi said. “That is a fact. I can guarantee no deal has been done but we have had a chat.”

Hoffman was one of the most respected players at the Storm but became a victim of the salary cap scandal, which forced the club to shed players.

He has also attracted interest from the South Sydney Rabbitohs – the club Wigan coach Michael Maguire will join next season – but it is understood he would prefer to re-join Melbourne, where he spent eight years and made 170 appearances before departing.

Hoffman’s return would also help fill the void created by Adam Blair’s departure.

The next six weeks is crunch time for Melbourne Storm, with decisions looming on whether up to 10 players remain at the club next season.

Storm officials have signed 19 of the 32 top-squad players for 2012, including all bar two of tomorrow’s 17-man team – veteran prop Adam Woolnough and New Zealander Adam Blair.

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Among those looking for another contract are giant young centre Elijah Niko who had been a try-scoring machine for Storm’s Queensland Cup feeder team but was yet to crack the NRL.

“We’ve spoken individually to all of them so they know where they are,” Ponissi said.

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