Croft gets second crack at No.7 jersey but Bellamy gives no guarantees
In an ideal world, Craig Bellamy would have settled on a halfback long before round 19 but he's confident Brodie Croft will latch onto his second chance to make the No.7 jersey his own.
Bellamy has praised Croft's return to form after handing the young playmaker another opportunity to cement the Melbourne halfback spot this Sunday against the Warriors.
Croft played the Storm's first five games but has spent three months in the Intrust Super Cup while Ryley Jacks and Jahrome Hughes have taken turns auditioning to be Cameron Munster's halves partner.
But the 21-year-old has learned from his torrid beginning early this year, shining in the Storm's 52-30 defeat of St George Illawarra before backing that up with a composed performance in the narrow win over the Sea Eagles last Saturday.
"He played strongly in both games," Bellamy said.
"Having said that, he had an opportunity at the start of the year and probably didn't grasp that with both hands. It's certainly not an easy job taking over from a guy like Cooper Cronk.
"There's probably expectations from us but expectations from people outside the club too. We understand how hard and how demanding that was on him early in the season. But he has handled the last two weeks really well, and it's a credit that he's come back and continued like that."
Melbourne's Origin contingent returns for a tricky assignment against the Warriors in Auckland on Sunday, with Jacks and Hughes left out of the 17.
Bellamy wants to settle on a regular halfback before the finals.
"That would probably be ideal but we're in that situation where we've played three of them this year. In one way it could be a benefit to us, but certainly, there's some real competition for that spot.
"Ryley has been really unlucky and has done a good job for us for most of the year. And we've got Jahrome there who can play in the halves as well, and just about any position in the backline.
"It wasn't an easy decision, but at the moment, that's what we're thinking."
The Storm coach isn't reading too much into the Storm's 50-10 win against the Warriors in round eight and was impressed by their form against the Broncos on Sunday.
"The Warriors had a great win last week up here in Brisbane," he said.
"That's not an easy thing to do. They were very dominant to be quite honest. We'll have our work cut out for us on Sunday afternoon."