Craig Bellamy has hinted he may persist with the reshuffled spine that got the job over the Gold Coast Titans on Sunday, just weeks out from the semi-finals.
Bellamy elected to rest young halfback Brodie Croft against the Titans, meaning Ryan Papenhuyzen played the 80 minutes in his preferred role at fullback, while regular number one Jahrome Hughes slotted in at halfback to partner Cameron Munster in the halves.
While most would’ve seen the move as Bellamy taking his opportunity to rest players against weaker opposition, the veteran coach liked what he saw from Papenhuyzen and Hughes, suggesting it may become more permanent.
“I thought it worked pretty well today,” Bellamy said post-game.
“Both of them obviously had really good runs with the footy. Paps threatened to poke his nose through there a couple of times.
“It was obviously a different thing for us and it was a big change but we just wanted to have a look at it today.
Papenhuyzen has bided his time on the bench for most of the season, but after scoring a try and running for a mammoth 183 metres and three linebreaks, Bellamy admitted it was becoming increasingly hard to leave the emerging talent on the bench.
“With Paps it has been hard to leave him out on a few occasions,” Bellamy said.
“It wasn’t easy leaving Brodie out today either but I don’t think it’s going to hurt Brodie.
“He’s played in every game this year and his still only a young halfback and a young player in the NRL so we’ll have a look at the game and decide where we want to go in the next couple of weeks.”
The 24-8 win at AAMI Park all but sealed the minor premiership for the Storm with two rounds remaining.
While Bellamy admitted the prize wasn’t all too important, he acknowledged the advantage it gives his side heading into their eighth consecutive finals campaigns.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a box ticked. We don’t sit down at the start of the year and think where would we like to finish or where do we think we’ll finish,” he said.
“I think it’s obviously special with how the finals work, I think it’s certainly an advantage. Everyone talks about the top four, but if you get in the top two that’s a fairly big advantage because you get the first final at home.
“We’re really happy that we’ve wrapped that up, hopefully well take advantage of it.”