Bellamy hoping old heads calm Storm - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Bellamy hoping old heads calm Storm

By Steve Jancetic 01/10/2009 07:39:02 PM Comments (0)

Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy will rely on his core group of senior players to ensure the Storm's fresh batch of grand final rookies don't suffer stage fright in Sunday's NRL decider.

Only five members of Bellamy's 17-man squad have never played on the final day of the season, with Will Chambers, Dane Neilsen, Aiden Tolman, Ryan Hinchcliffe joining mid-season call-up Ryan Tandy in making their grand final debuts against Parramatta at ANZ stadium.

While the Storm's run of four straight deciders means they boast a healthy 28-4 edge in grand final appearances over Sunday's opponents, Bellamy admitted to some concern over the preparation of at least one of his chargers.

"I probably only noticed it with one of the guys that he was a little bit nervous or a little but overwhelmed," Bellamy said, declining to reveal the player's identity.

"But I had a little chat with him yesterday and he'll handle it alright for the rest of the weekend."

While Bellamy felt compelled to act on that occasion, he said he would leave the rest up to his batch of grand final veterans - the likes of Billy Slater, Greg Inglis, Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk.

And the key according to the master coach is sticking to the normal routine as much as possible.

"It's important we don't make them do something they don't want to do or they're not used to doing," Bellamy said.

"I think we're all different in our personalities and how we handle the week and how we handle the emotion.

"Some guys need a little help with that, especially the younger guys.

"We've tried to help them through the week on what to expect and the way to approach the week.

"The best guys to do that job is these blokes that have been there three or four times."

While the injection of new blood has no doubt made Bellamy's task more difficult not only in grand final week but also throughout the rest of the season, there is a belief that the turnover of players has in fact aided the side in making it to four straight grand final appearances.

Much has been made of how hard the salary cap has hit the club with each grand final appearance, with 10 representative players having headed for new homes since 2006.

But in their place have come new players hungry for success.

"That probably helps, but certainly when you lose guys like (Israel) Folau, Mick Crocker, Matt King, Jeremy Smith and those sort of guys, it can knock you around a little bit," Bellamy said.

"The guys that have come in there have got an opportunity, whether they've come through our junior system or guys from other clubs that have been on the edge of first grade and are looking for an opportunity, if they're willing to work hard then they'll do well at our club."

Slater, one of six players to be lining up for his fourth straight grand final, admitted the addition of new players to the mix had helped guard against complacency.

"I'm not sure if there's that much different," Slater said of the build-up between this grand final and previous deciders.

"There's certainly different players involved. I think there's only four or five players that have played in all four grand finals, and there's certain players in this team that haven't played in a grand final.

"Whether our experience is going to help them remains to be seen."

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