Bellamy's faith in Hughes reaps dividends
Storm coach Craig Bellamy says he's been rewarding Jahrome Hughes due to his effort and form over the last few weeks and the 23-year-old utility paid that faith back by producing the best game of his young career on Thursday night against the Dragons.
Hughes in just his fifth NRL game this season, ran for a game-high 209 metres, scored a try, set up another, had a line break and two line-break assists along with a polished kicking game to add to his reliable carries from fullback.
And alongside two other young playmakers in Brodie Croft [a try and 139 running metres] and Ryley Jacks [a line break and two line break assists] the trio controlled the game expertly for the Storm.
"Jahrome was tremendous, Jacksy did a really good job. He ran the ball and was really hard to handle. I thought those guys were really outstanding," Bellamy said.
Their combinations also impressed Storm captain Cameron Smith, who compared the Wellington-born Hughes to exciting Dragons fullback Matt Dufty.
"We spoke about one of their opposition players, Dufty, the fullback, and any opportunity to find or see space that he is a dangerous runner," Smith said.
"I think Jahrome Hughes is much the same. Any opportunity to get in some space or in between defenders, he took it tonight. Since he's come into the first grade side, he's been outstanding.
"I reckon over the last six weeks, he's been one of our best and most consistent players. He's got a big future ahead of him."
With Cameron Munster, Will Chambers and Billy Slater away on Origin duty, Smith said he'd asked the young duo to get more vocal in their communication.
"It was a big improvement from our young halves from last week, where we looked a little bit under-organised [v Roosters]. Tonight, it was very clear about what we wanted to do.
"St George put us under a lot of pressure, particularly when we were coming out of our own end. But those guys, they kept their head for the whole match," Smith said.
Despite leaking five tries, Smith chose to reflect on his side's resilience to get the job done.
"It wasn't the way we wanted the game to pan out. Thirty points against us was disappointing," he said.
"But I look at it on the positive - we're playing against the best side in the competition at the moment, the benchmark, and we had players out, they had players out.
"But the pleasing thing is we hung in there, right to the end."