Bellamy navigates Storm's tricky waters
Coach Craig Bellamy finds himself as master and commander as he navigates the Melbourne Storm through a challenging State of Origin period – as well as staunchly defending loyal steward Tim Glasby.
Melbourne are determined to – pardon the pun – weather the storm without their inspirational trio of leaders in captain Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater as well as fellow Maroons teammates Will Chambers and debutant Glasby, who was lambasted by some media criticising the debutant's selection for Game Two.
You can also add integral members Cheyse Blair (minor ankle surgery, out for three to four weeks) and Jordan Mclean (broken cheekbone, out for four weeks) to the unavailability list for the Storm who go up against the North Queensland Cowboys at AAMI Park on Saturday night.
Renown for unearthing talents, Bellamy landed a major coup in enlisting NRL and Maroons Origin veteran Nate Myles for the rest of the season in bolstering a depleted playing list.
"It's been an interesting week," Bellamy said.
"Losing Origin players along with Cheyse and Macca (Mclean) not playing this week, it's been a bit of jigsaw puzzle.
"We've lost our leaders and a lot of players to Origin but it gives other guys an opportunity. Excited is not the right word but we embrace this period of the year when we get to look at a few younger guys and a few guys who have earned the right to be playing NRL."
Bellamy also explained the rationale behind the signing of Myles from the Sea Eagles.
"He's a really good gift for the club. He brings a lot of experience and we've lost Christian Welch for the year, and Jordan's out for a few weeks as well. If we get too many more injuries in that area, it's going to leave us thin.
"Nate provides us with more depth but also great experience and can play long minutes.
"We wouldn't have brought him here if we didn't think he could contribute or he thought he couldn't contribute."
While Myles isn't expected to make his club debut for two to three weeks due to injury, it's up to the young dynamic halves duo Cameron Munster and the newly re-signed Ryley Jacks to ignite the Storm against fierce adversaries Cowboys.
Munster was named 18th man for Queensland for Game Two on Wednesday and receives a huge boost of confidence going into this week's encounter, while Jacks will be motivated to repay the Storm's faith in re-signing him for 2018 before the end of the season.
"We just need them to play to their strengths and that's what we've moulded our game plan around – playing to everybody's strengths," Bellamy said.
"We don't them to go out there and do a Cronk role or a Smith role – just play to their strengths and do what the team needs of them."
North Queensland are also desperate to adjust without their Origin stars including inspirational skipper Johnathan Thurston, Michael Morgan, Gavin Cooper and Coen Hess.
"They've got a few guys out too, it's a bit strange to prepare for the Cowboys without preparing for Johnathan Thurston – that's been a nice change to be quite honest," Bellamy said.
"There's still got a lot of quality players in there."
As a final note, Bellamy weighed in on Glasby's upcoming debut for Queensland on Wednesday night and the unfair press he received.
"It certainly wasn't deserved," Bellamy said.
"That sort of Origin rivalry; it went way too far. I don't know who wrote it but I don't know how many Origins he's played.
"He can go on stats all he likes but Queensland selectors have sensed something in him. I know what they've seen in him and I know he'll do a great job on Wednesday night. Sometimes that's hard to measure on stats."