Bellamy on 'healthy respect' with Bennett
Craig Bellamy has hosed down talk of an ongoing feud with Broncos coach Wayne Bennett, declaring a "healthy respect" remains between the pair despite years of rivalry.
Both coaches traded barbs in 2015 after the Storm were labelled "boring" by Bennett after Brisbane were beaten by Melbourne in Round 26, despite the Broncos mentor driving the Dragons to a premiership-winning season on the back of a simple game plan in 2010.
Bellamy accused Bennett of double standards as a result, but the Storm were then bundled out of the competition by North Queensland the following week to set up an all-Queensland grand final.
The two coaches are yet to meet each other in a sudden-death preliminary final and any hostilities between the two has since simmered down following the emergence of premiership contenders the Sharks and Cowboys taking any focus away from the 14-year long coaching battle in recent seasons.
The pair will meet for the 32nd time on Friday night.
"I don't know about soured, it might have been tested for a little bit," Bellamy said of his relationship with Bennett after 2015.
"If I see him now we'll always have a chat. Alex Corvo (Brisbane's strength and conditioning coach) had his 50th the last time we played them the next day and Wayne was there.
"We had a good chat and spent a fair bit of time together. There are no pistols at seven paces, I don't think there's too much problems there."
Bellamy was assistant coach to Bennett at Brisbane almost two decades ago until the opportunity to coach Melbourne in 2003 became too good to refuse.
"There's certainly a healthy respect. I got to work with him up there for five years and work with the calibre of players they had," Bellamy said.
"It was a great experience for me and I'll always be grateful to him and the Broncos club."
The premiership-winning coach has a strong record against Bennett, winning 21 of 31 matches against his old mentor including four of the last five clashes.
Three of Bennett's last five wins against Bellamy came when he coached at the Knights and Dragons, however the Broncos' last three games at AAMI Park are promising – with one win and two losses by two-point margins.
"This is a different game and a bigger one than we've probably ever played against them, being a prelim final," Bellamy said.
"They were tremendous against Penrith and with [Darius] Boyd back will make them stronger defensively.
"Most of those guys have played rep footy so we know how hard a game it's going to be.
"We never pencil a game in the calendar but there is a healthy rivalry there with a lot of Queensland guys in our team."
Melbourne were offload-happy against the Broncos in their 14-12 win at home back in Round 3 and Bellamy won't be giving his troops a message to tighten up their attack just because of the occasion.
"Everybody talks about us struggling with offloads and shifting the ball," he said.
"All teams struggle with that. These sorts of games you want to be completing well so hopefully we get the balance right.
"We'll take it as the game goes, we've got a plan no doubt and hopefully we stick to that."
The week off has benefited the minor premiers, who have no injury concerns and are expected to be 1-17 for the clash.
Brisbane have cleared Corey Oates to return despite a nasty concussion, while Darius Boyd is set to play after three weeks out with a hamstring injury.
"Everything has gone along to plan in the last two weeks," Bellamy said of his side.
"There were a couple of guys we've checked up on with injuries from the last game and they've come through OK."