Bellamy still wary of Rhinos
Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy insists Leeds are still a threat for the World Club Challenge, despite their poor start to the season.
By Rachel Griffiths
Last Updated: 25/02/10 2:52pm
Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy insists Leeds still pose a threat for the Gillette World Club Challenge, despite their slow start to the season.
The engage Super League champions were defeated in two of their opening four matches and clinched an uninspiring win in their most recent fixture against Salford last Friday.
"I've watched all their games this year," said Bellamy. "I'm keeping an eye on what they've been doing.
"They probably haven't played as well as they would have liked but you only have to go back to the Grand Final last year to realise how many good players they've got in that team.
"It's a big occasion for them on Sunday and I'm sure they'll lift from what they've done in the first month of the competition."
Bellamy is yet to finalise his bench for the Elland Road clash on Sunday, and admits one particular selection headache is finding a replacement for injured scrum-half Cooper Cronk.
The most likely contender is Cameron Smith, who would be moved from his customary role at hooker to partner stand-off Brett Finch.
"The halves is the biggest area with Cooper not there," added Bellamy.
"Finchy has played a lot of half-back, young Luke Kelly did a really good job against Harlequins but it's a big game next Sunday so that would be a big ask.
"Cameron Smith can play a little bit of half-back. We'll have a look at the tape and go from there."
Australia Test back row forward Ryan Hoffman, one of five current Storm players to have featured in the team beaten 11-4 by Rhinos in the 2008 World Club Challenge, insists his side are in better shape than they were two years ago.
"Fitness-wise, we've worked really hard in the off-season and pre-season and our medical staff have done really well to get us prepared for this game after a long trip," said Hoffman.
"We're feeling like there's more of a spring in the step than there was two years ago."