Storm’s Bellamy lashes NRL draw

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Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy is threatening to withdraw some of his players from their 2013 round-two clash with North Queensland, saying the NRL draw threatens their health.

He also sees the draw as unfair with his team receiving five five-day breaks, more than any other side.

The defending premiers play the Cowboys in the heat of North Queensland on Saturday March 16, with the game kicking off at 6.30pm local time.

They are then required to return to Melbourne for a grand final rematch against the Bulldogs on the Thursday night, a five-day turn-around.

With the bulk of the team returning for pre-season training in Melbourne on Monday a furious Bellamy said the draw showed a lack of “common sense”.

“The NRL and the Players’ Association talked to doctors about the shoulder charge but is anyone talking to them about dehydration?

“It takes us a full day to get to the Cowboys and it’s basically still summer time.

“It’s really hot and humid and then it’s a full day’s travel back and then they expect us to play four days later.

“We’re really worried about the welfare of our players, so we’re told, but are any doctors being asked about their opinions on what this does to players.

“We feel we’ve been shafted with that turnaround between the Cowboys and Bulldogs.”

He said he would consider resting players from the North Queensland game.

“I’m really concerned about our players and if I think it’s dangerous for some of our players then they won’t be playing up there.”

The coach said he was made aware of the draw while enjoying a holiday break on a Queensland beach, late the afternoon before it was made public.

He said the NRL should follow the AFL’s lead and give clubs at least a few days to voice their concerns about the draw.

“Then there’s still time to perhaps change it.

“And going back to the AFL, none of their teams have five-day turnarounds and with all due respect I think our game’s a bit more physical in contact than their game.”

Bellamy said it was time for the Players’ Association to stand up for the players.

While most of the Storm players got their pre-season underway, superstars Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk won’t be seen until after Christmas.

Veteran half Brett Finch, who is returning for a second stint, will be on deck in early December.

© AAP 2014
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