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'Mature' Inglis ready to fire for Storm

By Todd Balym 29/09/2009 05:12:54 PM Comments (0)

He inspired Melbourne to their last premiership win in 2007 and now all the signs are pointing to another standout grand final performance by Storm superstar Greg Inglis.

In a sold-out grand final shaping as a battle between some of the game's most exciting players, it is Clive Churchill medallist Inglis that gives Melbourne the balance of star power over the brilliance of Parramatta champion Jarryd Hayne.

With all eyes on Hayne versus Billy Slater, Storm coach Craig Bellamy believes the recent form of Inglis is as good as any time in the champion 22-year-old's career and a remarkable return after the most difficult time in his young life.

Inglis was suspended indefinitely by the club a month out from the finals after a domestic dispute with his girlfriend led to an assault charge which remains in front of the courts.

The Test and Queensland star was banished from the club but returned a week later and was back on the field just a fortnight after the incident took place.

Bellamy praised Inglis for not only the way he handled himself off the field, but for the way he has bounced immediately back to form on it.

"Without a doubt I couldn't be prouder of him if he was my son," said Bellamy.

"Just how he has handled that situation, it's been a real credit to him and how he has handled himself since he has been back has been a real credit to him as well.

"Not only off the field with his preparation but we've all seen what he can do on the footy field."

Bellamy believes the enforced break from the game, where Inglis got to experience how his life would be without football, changed him.

While he remains a laid-back character, he is no longer half asleep in team meetings or too relaxed for the coach's liking.

"I think it made him a bit more hungry because he really missed the footy for two weeks," said Bellamy.

"He just realised how important it is to him.

"I think there's been a big turnaround in him this year.

"It's just a maturity thing, he is only 22 years old. He has been through so much in his life, footy wise and things off the field.

"He has just matured."

It is the way Inglis has performed on the field, particularly in the finals series, that should have the Eels worried.

He was man of the match in the preliminary final win over Brisbane, three spectacular tries and some bone-rattling defence another addition to his growing highlights reel.

A five-eighth for the past two grand finals, Inglis is enjoying being back at centre and with all eyes on Hayne and Slater don't be surprised if it is Inglis who steals the show at ANZ Stadium on Sunday.

"He doesn't go looking for the limelight, but when the limelight is there he handles it really well," said Bellamy.

"I think centre is his spot and although he was pretty dominant in that grand final we won playing five-eighth and he won the Clive Churchill medal, I think he is more mature now.

"He is very comfortable with where he is playing position wise and very comfortable with his role in the team."

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