Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy doesn’t like giving the opposition a leg-up at the best of times.
Let alone when they’re the NRL reigning premiers, top the table and are enjoying a relatively good run on the injury front.
So travelling to Brisbane for a ‘home’ clash with North Queensland was never going to excite Bellamy as much as Storm bean counters.
“We’d much prefer as a playing group to be playing our home game here,” admitted Bellamy in Melbourne on Tuesday.
“The club has made that decision. It’s obviously a financial one and it must be a pretty good financial one.”
The two top-four sides face off in game one of Saturday’s double header at Suncorp Stadium, before Manly “host” Brisbane.
It isn’t the first time the club has sold home games. They beat St George Illawarra 22-4 in Napier last year.
At least on that occasion the Storm’s many New Zealand players ensured they were well supported.
It’s fully expected to be a pro-Cowboys crowd on the weekend, although Bellamy hoped his side’s Queensland connection would count for something.
“We’ll have plenty of support there,” he said.
“It’s not all bad, we’re probably playing in the best rugby league stadium in the world.”
And they’re up against arguably the best club team in the world; Bellamy calling it Melbourne’s biggest test yet in 2016.
“They’re playing as well as they were last year when they won the competition, so it’s a really big ask,” he said.
The representative period started last weekend, further complicating Bellamy’s challenge of keeping his side competitive without a handful of injured backs.
“We had 10 or 11 (pre players) I think. A lot of clubs had that. There was a lot of rep games on the weekend,” he said.
“Most of them got through ok … we expect all of them to be playing.
“We’re still giving the Australian and New Zealand (Test) boys another day … the Australian boys, they’re going to be playing a bit of Origin (soon) as well.”
Bellamy, who has long called for change to the State of Origin schedule, suggested flexibility would be key over the next couple of months.
“You always put plans in place but especially during Origin .. it’s a bit of suck it and see,” the former NSW mentor said.
“This is a big weekend we’ve just finished .. but Origin is consistent and it’s not just the actual games.
“It’s so mentally draining for the players.”