Bellamy puts faith in back-up backrowers - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Bellamy puts faith in back-up backrowers

By Guy Hand 20/08/2008 05:36:32 PM Comments (0)

Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy is confident reprieved Melbourne backrower Sika Manu and Jeremy Smith can plug the gap left by injured Test star Ryan Hoffman as the Storm hit the road to chase the NRL minor premiership.

Melbourne play Penrith in Penrith next Monday night, then take on Newcastle away six days later.

If the Storm win both matches, they will finish top of the NRL table for the third successive year.

The loss of Hoffman with an ankle injury - at least until the finals start and perhaps longer than that - leaves Bellamy needing backrow back-up.

Bellamy sees one of Hoffman's great strengths as being able to play the full 80 minutes without rotation off the bench.

But he is confident Manu, who dodged suspension on a contrary conduct charge this week when he made an early guilty plea, and Smith will be able to plug the gap.

"Ryan obviously gives us a few things, especially since he's a backrower that will play 80 minutes and there's not many of them," Bellamy said.

"But Jeremy's been playing great all year though he probably won't get the 80 minutes and Sika's been going very well."

The Storm will go straight from Penrith for a four-day camp on the NSW central coast ahead of the Newcastle match, which the club hopes will be a better bet than two plane trips as they battle a short turnaround between games.

"It'll be a camp situation. It'll be a bit of a change of environment, a change of surroundings for the players and hopefully that will help freshen things up," Bellamy said.

"But we didn't want to play Penrith, have a bus trip back to the airport and then fly and do the same thing two days later."

The Storm tried a similar move successfully in April, when they went direct from Canberra after beating the Raiders to North Queensland for a Cowboys match which they won five days later.

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