Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy admits he’s taking a risk by giving his players an extra light preparation heading into Saturday’s NRL preliminary final against North Queensland.
The Storm have hardly trained since overcoming the minor premier Sydney Roosters almost two weeks ago to book their place in the grand final qualifier.
Apart from a match simulation at AAMI Park last Thursday night, rest and recovery has been the focus which Bellamy said differed from his usual finals preparation.
“This has probably been the lightest workload we’ve had when we’ve won our first semi and gone straight through to a prelim,” Bellamy said.
“We had a lot of travel and some short turnarounds against the top-three sides at the end of the season so it was a big workload.
“We’ve had some time to rest them up which we thought was the best thing to do and hopefully we’ve got it right.”
Winger Marika Koroibete remains their biggest injury concern after lacerating the back of his ankle during the Roosters match, with the wound requiring stitching and plastic surgery.
But Bellamy said the Fijian flyer had made some headway in his recovery.
“He doing some light running and he’s really improved in the last 24 hours,” Bellamy said.
“We were a bit doomy and gloomy on Monday to be honest … we’ll see how he goes.”
Melbourne overcame the Cowboys 14-6 at AAMI Park in the penultimate round of the NRL season, when the visitors were without playmaker Michael Morgan.
The young five-eighth, who had an ankle injury, helped his team end the Sharks’ title hopes in emphatic style last weekend, scoring two tries.
“He’s a very dangerous ball-runner and everyone knows that,” Bellamy said of Morgan.
“He’s strong and he’s quick so he certainly adds another dimension to them that we didn’t have to face last time.”
Bellamy said it wasn’t just Morgan and superstar halfback Johnathan Thurston the Storm would have to watch, with their forwards, led by prop Matt Scott, steam-rolling Cronulla.
“They just rolled over the top of the Sharks and that’s not an easy thing to do,” Bellamy said.
“Their big guys are very mobile and they were super-impressive.”