Billy Slater’s possible replacement Scott Drinkwater had a tough initiation, after he was hit hard by Patrick Herbert in a preseason trial.
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Craig Bellamy has reached a preliminary final without a settled specialist halfback. He is now openly taking the piss.
I know this guy is a fun-loving prankster, but this is absurd. How can you reach the pointy end by filling the most crucial position on the field with just regular blokes, albeit three of them?
We all know you don’t chop and change halves unless you’re Ricky Stuart or Brad Arthur, or if you have an annual booking for a condo every September.
Bellamy’s strategy proves that rugby league is no longer about winning for him. After ten preliminary finals in 13 years, he is clearly bored.
He is no longer challenged by the brink of aneurysm, so he’s resorting to winning stuff with his chief playmaker reduced to the same level of responsibility as the corner post.
It is the surest sign yet that Bellamy’s genius is going to waste. He should be forced to do something more complex, like quantum physics or fixing the Wallabies.
For those unaware, it is impossible to win anything without a halfback. This is proven by numerous peer-reviewed papers and the fact first-graders are undefeated in the Archibald Prize.
But this hasn’t stopped Bellamy from aiming to be the first coach to achieve the feat since 2015, when Paul Green overlooked conventional halfbacks in favour of God.
Who could be Melbourne’s Shane Perry? Could it be Brodie Croft, Rylie Jacks or Jahrome Hughes? What’s Bryan Norrie doing these days?
Whoever it may be, they are attempting to fill the significant breach left by Cooper Cronk, who departed the Bellamy regime to take respite in Sydney real estate and marriage.
Many initially believed the mastermind coach would struggle with this 33 per cent reduction in future Immortals, especially after the club had been blessed over the years with a string of quality halves and Ben Roberts.
But in the end, Bellamy has just casually revolutionised the game by covering the shortfall elsewhere, filling the gaps in the game plan with a delicate mix of understudies and Jiu Jitsu.
It’s just the latest from a bloke who’s managed to continue to thrive despite shedding valuable commodities like Cronk, Matt Orford, Scott Hill and Brian Waldron.
Whatever way you spin it though, Bellamy trying to capture a title without a noted seven will still be like taking the engine out of a car, the milk out of a thick shake or the Cronk out of the Storm.
The signs are already there; after all, they did nosedive to second on the ladder.
No doubt, a premiership will require all hands on deck from Bellamy’s balding captain and his new-look Big Three of Smith, Ashley and Martin.