Bellamy hopes scars make Storm fight - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Bellamy hopes scars make Storm fight

By Guy Hand 01/12/2008 05:35:59 PM Comments (0)

Craig Bellamy is ready for one of the toughest challenges of his coaching career, rebuilding a Storm side shattered by NRL grand final defeat and post-season departures.

After a short holiday, Bellamy returned to work on Monday to lead his first pre-season training session.

And he expected to find a team bearing scars from a second grand final defeat in three years - inflicted in crushing style by Manly.

Several Melbourne players then went on to suffer the indignity of Australia's shock World Cup defeat by New Zealand, with Bellamy now facing a big task to mentally, as well as physically, ready his players.

"It is disappointing to lose a grand final then lose a World Cup final but ... that's life and we just need to get on with what we need to do this year," Bellamy said.

"It was tough losing the grand final but how we lost it makes it even tougher for us.

"There'll certainly be some scars. It's something that you don't forget about too quickly.

"I certainly haven't and I'm sure the players are the same.

"Hopefully it'll make us a little bit more determined to play well."

Bellamy must also plug sizeable gaps left by the departures of superstar back Israel Folau to Brisbane, tough backrower Michael Crocker to England and foundation player Matt Geyer to retirement.

The Storm are masters at unearthing gems when left with a pile of rubble - Cooper Cronk replacing Matt Orford at halfback the best example under Bellamy's reign.

But Bellamy admitted teenage giant Folau loomed as near-irreplaceable and subtle tweaks to their game plan may be needed to remain a force in 2009.

"I don't know whether you can actually replace a guy like Israel - you're not going to get a guy as big as him that can leap like him and at 19 years of age, he's just one of a kind," Bellamy said.

"We've just got to find someone else who'll fit in that position but play to their strengths.

"We've got a bigger changeover of player personnel this year than any time I've been here.

"Our backbone's still there, our hooker and halfback and fullback, but the guys going around them are going to be a fair bit different.

"We'll probably have to change the way we play a little bit again."

The Storm have already locked in three 2009 pre-season matches, starting with a re-match with finals conquerors New Zealand Warriors in Hamilton, New Zealand, on February 12.

They will also play Newcastle at Melbourne's Princes Park on February 21, and round off their preparation with a match against Brisbane in Caloundra on February 28.

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