Storm set to end season of misery - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Storm set to end season of misery

By Melissa Woods 04/09/2010 03:33:58 PM Comments (0)

Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy insists it's business as usual as the Storm prepare for their final match of the NRL season against Newcastle on Sunday.

But the reality is that it's anything but a normal end to the Storm's season from hell.

For a start, they're not playing in the finals for the first time since 2002, the year before Bellamy took over as coach.

Stripped of two premierships and all points for this season and handed massive fines when their salary cap rorts were exposed back in April, the Storm have only been playing for pride.

In Sunday's AAMI Park match, which is a sell-out after they offered tickets to fans for just one dollar, they will farewell a host of players who are casualties of the club's salary cap scandal.

Superstar Greg Inglis, forwards Ryan Hoffman, Brett White, Jeff Lima and Aiden Tolman will all play their last game in the purple, while popular veteran Brett Finch is also leaving but has been sidelined because of a hand injury.

After a fan session on Saturday that attracted several hundred despite persistent rain in Melbourne, Bellamy said he wasn't thinking about the end of an era.

"We've just been concerning ourselves with our performance tomorrow," he said.

"My job is to coach the team and I've tried to do that the best I can this week and I've probably coached them a bit more this week than I have for ages.

"We're back to a bit of normality for the last game, I suppose, and we're looking to perform well tomorrow, that's our focus."

Despite it being their last show of the year, and with nothing on the line, Bellamy said it would be a standard Storm performance rather than any razzle dazzle.

"I don't think they'll be off the leash, for want of a better term.

"I'd like to think tomorrow we'll be like the Storm of old, that's what we're planning and if we do that it will be very familiar to the players leaving because I'm sure that's how they'd like to remember their last game."

Bellamy, who shares an incredibly close bond with his players, thought tears would flow after the Knights match, although didn't think it would be him crying.

"With six of them leaving, they've all made a great contribution to the club so it's a sad day for us, when they finish playing.

"What happens after the game will probably happen naturally, there'll probably be tears somewhere, I'm sure Jeff Lima will burst into tears at some stage."

Bellamy will leave soon after the final match and head to England for a holiday, his first in September in as long as he can remember.

"I'm not overly keen to watch what happens in September to be quite honest," he said.

"I know that might sound a little bit childish but again, I know it would be difficult to sit there watching it when I know we've been part of it for so long.

"It's a chance to get away and hopefully freshen up for next year."

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