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Storm overcome odds to set NRL benchmark

Not so long ago, Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy reckoned the Storm felt like a “bunch of lepers”.

But Bellamy has paid tribute to his side for sticking together and overcoming enormous odds to be provisional NRL ladder leaders with Friday’s 46-8 thumping of Brisbane.

The usually hard marking Bellamy couldn’t hide his pride after Melbourne overran the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium to clinch their fifth straight win.

No wonder.

The Storm have crisscrossed the east coast this season due to the COVID-19 outbreak in Victoria, at one stage making a temporary home at a less than welcome Albury where they were banned from training at council-owned grounds.

They were eventually allowed back in Melbourne before another coronavirus wave forced the Storm to relocate to the Sunshine Coast a month ago where they expect to spend the rest of the season.

Yet the major disruptions have not spilled over onto the field with Melbourne again becoming the NRL benchmark.

Bellamy baulked when asked if this season would rank as the perennial title contenders’ greatest to date considering the obstacles they have overcome.

But the Storm mentor reckoned his team’s ability to adapt may be hard to beat.

“We have had a lot of disruptions. When we started again (after coronavirus shutdown) and had to uproot to Albury, we were treated like a bunch of lepers at one stage,” Bellamy said.

“We couldn’t find anywhere to go. No one wanted us.

“And in the eight rounds leading up to last week we played at seven different grounds.

“It’s been frustrating at times…but it’s been a terrific effort for the players to adapt to the changes.”

Bellamy added: “And the Sunshine Coast is not a bad place to get isolated at.”

But Storm captain Cameron Smith said it had been no holiday being stuck at a Sunshine Coast resort with no departure date in sight.

“It’s a pretty difficult situation that everyone is in at the moment,” he said.

“Half the squad have got family and friends up here, half the squad don’t – they are back in Victoria in what is a dire situation.

“I’ve seen a few things written and spoken about us being on the Sunshine Coast and how nice it is but it’s not our home.”

However, Smith backed his side to stay strong for what he reckoned would feel like a long season.

“Our mindset is ‘let’s do our best to get on with it’ and I have been really pleased with the attitude from all the players and staff,” he said.

“So far it’s good but we still have another nine games to go before the finals start.

“Looking at the situation in Melbourne there’s next to no chance of us going back there this year so it’s going to be a long season and we have to help each other through it.”

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