For Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy, whilst 2010 was a year to forget for his club, he is focusing on the 2011 season, and has pinpointed three current players to fill the centre void left by Greg Inglis who joined the Rabbitohs.
The three players that Bellamy will test out in the trials to see if they deserve the starting spot is Dane Neilsen, Chase Stanley, and new recruit Beau Champion in the pre-season trials.
“I’m not looking for an Inglis clone as such, because you can’t replace a player like GI,” Bellamy said.
“He’s unique, both as a player and as a person, and one that’s still tremendously popular with this playing group despite the fact he’s joined South Sydney.
“The thing that strikes you in meeting him for the first time is just how humble, down to earth and loyal a person he is.”
Inglis, who made a surprise appearance at Storm HQ, a visit which surprised Bellamy, as well as new Melbourne assistant coaches Kevin Walters and David Kidwell, spent time with his former team-mates.
“He’s still on the mend from a shoulder operation. He got a warm reception from the players and even joined them for lunch,” Bellamy said.
Bellamy, who is now headed into his 9th season as the coach of the Melbourne Storm, says that both his and the clubs top priority is to ensure that the club don’t dwell on the past problems of the 2010 season.
“At the end of the day, I’ve got to make sure the players stay on track and focus on the season ahead and not look back,” he said.
“I want them to turn up and play on match days.”
For Bellamy, when the cap scandal broke, from the minute the Storm were under heavy scrutiny, Bellamy said that he never had any intention of leaving the club, and he wants to be there to help them during the re-building phase.
“We’ve got 13 new faces here all looking to have a real dip, some of whom haven’t been in the league for a couple of seasons,” he said.
“Guys like Adam Woolnough, who retired at the end of 2009, went backpacking through Europe with his wife and came to us looking refreshed and wanting another go.
“The same goes for Troy Thompson from the Canberra Raiders, Jaiman Lowe has first-grade experience at Souths, while Maurice Blair is another looking to kickstart his footy career with us.
“Blair last played at Penrith two years, turned up 10 kilos overweight and looking to make an imprint at five-eighth or centre.
“The likes of Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith were all given extra time off, are now back in full work and helping the new faces settle in and showing how things are done here.”