Melbourne NRL coach Craig Bellamy is backing his side to make themselves at home in the New Zealand city of Napier when they take on St George-Illawarra on Saturday.
Melbourne sold their home game to the North Island city in February, and Bellamy is confident that McLean Park will prove a hostile environment for the Dragons.
“We’re obviously used to the idea now, we’ve known for a fair while, but to be quite honest we’re quite excited about it,” Bellamy said on Wednesday.
“It’s Tohu Harris’ home town, so it’s a home game for us and we’re going to be treating it as such.”
Origin stars Cooper Cronk, Will Chambers and Cameron Smith have been rested from training this week following their hectic recent schedule.
Cronk made an early exit from last week’s win over Penrith, but Bellamy dismissed concerns over his fitness and said that all three would play.
“(Cooper) hadn’t played for four or five weeks then played three games in 10 days, so we thought it would be safer to get him off,” he said.
“This week he hasn’t done any training but that’s what we wanted with him, Smithy and Will. They’ve just had some time off and hopefully that will freshen them up for the rest of the season.”
This will be the Storm’s second match in New Zealand this month and the coach admitted he took a little time to warm to the idea of a return trip after their round 18 loss to the Warriors.
That defeat was his side’s fourth in a row – a run that was broken by last week’s morale-boosting win over the Panthers in Smith’s 300th game. Bellamy urged his players to bring the same intensity they showed for their skipper’s milestone when they take on the ninth-placed Dragons, who will be trying to avoid a seventh loss in succession.
“In some cases they probably have been (unlucky) but they’ve been playing a lot better than a team that’s lost six in a row,” Bellamy said.
“They’ve been very competitive in some really close games and it just hasn’t been running for them … hopefully it doesn’t run for them for another week.”
Melbourne will wear a commemorative jumper designed by Harris for the one-off game.