Bellamy: I’m starting to doubt whether this group has got it
MELBOURNE Storm coach Craig Bellamy has launched a stunning public critique of his players, questioning if they've lost the character that has for so long made them the NRL's best.
In a dressing-down following his side's 20-18 loss to Cronulla on Friday night, Bellamy admitted he would have been embarrassed if his side had won, and threatened future changes.
Melbourne's loss was just their second of the season and they still sit comfortably in the top four, but it came after they narrowly got out of jail against an injury-ravaged Warriors last week.
Asked if the $3 million in missing Sharks talent had impacted his team's mindset before Friday's loss, Bellamy was brutal in his response.
"That's one thing I think we've been pretty strong at over the past couple of years, but after the last couple of weeks I'm starting to doubt if this group has got that," Bellamy said.
"And we better find that or I'll be finding some new players."
Pressed on how strong of a statement he had just made, Bellamy didn't relent.
"We gave young (Ryan) Papenhausen a go tonight and how good was he?" Bellamy said.
"So if I have to go and do that and put young players in, I'll do it. There's a lot of players in that team who have got a lot of points up, so there'll be a couple tapped on the shoulder saying you need to improve.
"I don't want to sit here and bullshit to you. At the moment we aren't playing games out like Storm teams play games out."
It comes at a time of a significant change in Melbourne.
While Cameron Smith remains at hooker, he, Dale Finucane, Will Chambers and Jesse and Kenny Bromwich are the only players in the squad to have played more than 100 NRL games.
Bellamy said on Friday night his team had probably been lucky to win a number of games since round three, but conceded they were unfortunate not to beat the Sydney Roosters a fortnight ago.
But he said his team deserved the result they got at Cronulla, where they at one stage went 14 minutes without completing a set in the second half.
"It was a crap second half for us. They took real advantage of it, they played a near-perfect second half," Bellamy said.
"We were outplayed, out-toughed physically, out-toughed mentally. Their game management was a whole heap better than us. They outmaneuvered us."