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Storm's Wishart excited for potential clash with Cleary

Rob Prezioso/AAP PHOTOS

Melbourne utility Tyran Wishart is not daunted by the prospect of a potential NRL showdown with star Penrith halfback Nathan Cleary in a preliminary final.

The 23-year-old stepped up in the Storm's time of need on Friday night, admirably filling in for injured No.7 Jahrome Hughes in a thrilling 18-13 semi-final win over the Sydney Roosters.

Wishart thrived in just his second start of the season at halfback, scoring the first try of the game to get Melbourne firing early following a nightmare 26-0 defeat in Brisbane seven days earlier.

Hughes is a chance to return from a calf injury for Friday night's clash with the Panthers at Accor Stadium.

But as he did last week, Wishart will prepare as if he is playing as the Storm attempt to upset the Panthers' dreams of a premiership three-peat.

"Cleary's a great player, he's at the top of his game and he gets better every year, so to get the chance to play against him would be outstanding, especially in a prelim final," Wishart, the son of former Illawarra Steelers and St George Illawarra Dragons champion Rod, said.

"I'm just excited, the whole club is excited, and we're going to go into next week full of confidence.

"Grand finals are the epitome but prelims are sometimes a harder game, so I'll just attack the week thinking I'm playing and we'll see what happens.

"Whatever my role is this week, I'll attack it full on; whether I'm training with the reserve grade or being with the NRL (squad), I'm happy to do that."

Wishart said some words of wisdom pre-game from Hughes helped calm the nerves.

"(Hughes) just said, 'don't try and play any other game but your own' so that was great advice from him. I took that on board, and I was glad he said that to me," Wishart said.

"I knew that he (Hughes) was only a slim chance to play so I just went in and attacked the week with the mindset.

"I guess I was pretty lucky that I did a lot of training in the halves this year, especially through the pre-season. I do train and play elsewhere, a lot of hooker."

Storm coach Craig Bellamy said Hughes, as well as winger Xavier Coates (ankle), would be racing the clock to be available to take on Penrith.

"I think Jahrome has a better chance than Xavier at the moment," he said.