Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy is refusing to blame State of Origin for his NRL team’s meek showing against the Sydney Roosters, saying his representatives players were among his best.
The Storm succumbed to the Roosters on Monday night with barely a whimper 24-2, with Bellamy hoping it was just a “hiccup” in form.
They next face the injury-ridden Panthers in Penrith on Saturday night.
“That wasn’t the standard we’ve been setting this year,” Bellamy said.
“We’ve got a quick turnaround so hopefully we’ll find a little bit more form and also a lot more effort.”
Maroons fullback Billy Slater missed the Roosters match with his ongoing shoulder issues while Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Will Chambers all backed up following their Origin I victory.
Bellamy said it couldn’t be blamed for their performance.
“Our guys are used to that and to be honest the three guys who played were probably our best players so there’s no excuse about how we turned up.”
Slater arrived in Sydney from Melbourne on Wednesday to train with the squad while Cronk, Smith and Chambers have been given four days off, with the latter two returning home to recharge.
Bellamy said he expected Penrith to still mount a strong challenge despite the loss of a number of key players to injury including star fullback Matt Moylan who required ankle surgery.
The Storm have also lost a big attacking weapon with Marika Koroibete undergoing surgery on his fractured thumb today that could sideline him for up to eight weeks.
“Moylan is a big loss for them as he’s been in great form but they’ve got Dallin (Watene-Zelezniak) there at fullback.
“He’s highly regarded and has been picked for the national side and they tell me fullback is his best spot.”
Penrith have named pivot Jamie Soward despite his shoulder injury caused by Eels forward Pauli Pauli’s controversial late hit.
Bellamy said he was happy the incident was in the headlines because it meant the NRL might finally do something about late shots on playmakers.
“It’s always an issue with me but all of sudden with the Soward hit it’s a big issue,” he said.
“Cooper (Cronk) and Johnathan Thurston have been copping that for years so I’m glad to see they’re finally doing something about it but it’s taken longer than it should have.
“I don’t want playmakers in cotton wool but when they’re getting hit late in the back when they can’t see, a lot of whiplash comes from that and that can cause concussion so it’s a no brainer for me.”
“If someone takes the playmaker out late he needs to be penalised and perhaps we need to look at suspension as well.”