Melbourne Storm NRL coach Craig Bellamy was delighted to see injury-prone winger Matt Duffie make his return after a double dose of surgery last year.
He may be concerned with a late fade-out and high error rate, but one thing that has pleased Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy is the return of Kiwi international Matt Duffie.
The Storm were over-run by Canberra 20-12 in their NRL trial match at AAMI Park, with both under-strength sides feeling the effects of the 40-degree temperature in Melbourne.
The match was winger’s Duffie’s first since undergoing a double dose of surgery on his knee and shoulder last year, which cut his season short after only nine rounds.
It was his third shoulder reconstruction, having also gone under the knife in 2011 and then missed the 2012 grand final win with another operation.
The 23-year-old looked shaky under the high ball but was given a thorough work-out thanks to some crunching Raiders defence and finished intact.
“Everyone’s holding their breath when he’s in and around the action,” Bellamy said.
“He was a bit nervous before the game as you would expect and a couple of times out there he looked nervous as well but other times he looked right at home.
“It’s just a matter of getting some games under his belt and I’m sure that confidence will come back.”
With many stars including Kangaroos Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk on the sidelines and Bellamy fielding a swag of newcomers, the Storm were understandably fairly patchy.
Bellamy said that although the team lacked cohesion he was pleased with some individual performances.
He tipped 19-year-old Cameron Munster to make his NRL debut after the fullback looked right at home in the top grade.
He was pleased with former Bulldog Joel Romelo while Ben Hampton put his hand up to wear the No.6 jersey in their opening round clash with Manly after a strong showing.
“I thought he had a really good first half although like the rest of the team he struggled in the last quarter,” Bellamy said.
Following the Auckland Nines the Storm will send its entire squad to Brisbane to play across two games in final hit-outs before round one.
Players will either play against Brisbane Easts on Saturday, Feb 22 or against the Bulldogs the following day at Suncorp Stadium.