Melbourne NRL coach Craig Bellamy says Canberra coach David Furner must think the Storm are a “bunch of hillbillies” to be dumb enough to teach their players to tackle around the heads of opponents.
The Storm were accused by Furner of using a new tackling technique, which employs a wrestling manoeuvre dubbed the “chin strap”.
Bellamy looked like he wanted to put someone in a headlock himself as he addressed the media before training on Wednesday to defend his players.
Before taking any questions, he teed off on Furner and the Raiders, who sent the NRL footage of six tackles by Storm players during their 24-19 loss they believed was proof.
Bellamy conceded one of those tackles, by Todd Lowrie on Brett White, should have been penalised but said there was no head-high wrestling technique.
“I’m not quite sure whether David Furner thinks we’re a bunch of hillbillies down here,” Bellamy said.
“… If he thinks we actually teach our players to attack the head and necks of other players when that part of the game is so highly under scrutiny these days by the referee, by the review committee.
“I know we’re not that smart but we ain’t that dumb either.”
The Storm have previously been accused of devising other suspect tackling techniques including the “chicken wing”, the “grapple” and the “crusher”.
Bellamy said his players and their tackling techniques were an easy target for individuals and opposition clubs under pressure.
Canberra, under Furner, finished second last in the 2011 competition.
“We’re an easy target to deflect that pressure after the week they’ve played us or the week leading up to when they play us,” Bellamy said.
“It seems as though my players’ tackling technique seems to be a favourite topic.”
He said the Storm only expected to be treated like any other side and, if there were any problems, he wanted to hear from the referee or the match review committee.
Melbourne were infuriated that the Raiders aired their grievances with the media before referees’ bosses Bill Harrigan and Stuart Raper had received the vision of the tackles.
“We’ve had no problem with the referees – no problems with the review committee,” Bellamy said.
“We played Canberra in a trial three weeks ago – there wasn’t a peep about it. We played the Broncos – there wasn’t a peep about it.
“All of a sudden, we play our first game and win a very close, tight game … then it comes out three days after the game.
“You can understand our frustration there.
“They (Storm players) thought it was a bit of a joke,” Bellamy said of the criticism.
“It seems to not worry them too much. It’s like water off a duck’s back.
“It’s happened before and is probably going to happen again.”
Melbourne face Souths in round two at AAMI Park on Sunday night. The coach didn’t believe the furore would affect preparations to play a side that includes some of their former favourite sons in Greg Inglis, Michael Crocker and Matt King and is coached by former assistant Michael Maguire.