Bellamy playing mind game with Panthers Shock over Munster goes fullback

Melbourne are speculating on Penrith as to who will play fullback in their magic round blockbuster on Saturday night, with Cameron Munster in the back thinking of pulling a shock move.

With first-choice Ryan Papenhuizen ruled out due to injury, Storm coach Craig Bellamy has nominated Nick Manny to move from Wing to No. 1. But Bellamy says the star five-eighth Munster is an alternative.

The 27-year-old began his NRL career at Fullback in 2014 and spent most of the two seasons there when Billy Slater moved away due to a shoulder injury.

He took the fifth-eighth jersey fulltime in 2018 but has often spoken of his desire to come back.

There is also speculation that Rookie Utility Tyrone Wishert, whose name was on the bench, could be promoted to the starting fullback role.

“Munster played a lot there so we got some options,” Bellamy said Friday. “He has been there a few times this year. We will start a certain way but if it is not fully implemented then we can change something.”

Storm plans to launch Marion Save at the center even though he has played only nine NRL games in the last two seasons.

Cam Munster against the Panthers

(Photo by Cameron Spencer / Getty Images)

Bellamy said Save, whose knee was reconstructed in 2020, had been knocking on doors for some time before Remis Smith was injured.

“He was outstanding at the Queensland Cup … we’re really confident he’ll do it,” he said of Save.

Strictly-powered Tui Kamikamica is also set to play his first NRL game of the year after a nine-week ban for off-field events.

Melbourne and Penrith have dominated the last two seasons, each winning a title, when they entered this sold-out Suncorp Stadium clash at the top of the stairs with an 8-1 record.

Some extra spice was thrown into their contest when it was revealed that after winning the 2020 Grand Final, Storm halfback Jahrom Hughes drunkenly mocked the Panthers’ blue-collar upbringing, which they used as fodder for last year’s preliminary final win.

Bellamy defended Hughes, who apologized to the Panthers this week for his social media antiques.

“I don’t know the situation since 2020, but the only thing I can say is that I’ve never met a better person than Jahrom Hughes,” the coach said.

“He is a very humble man and very virtuous so if he hurts anyone he will be very sorry for it.”

Melbourne have amassed an incredible 162 points in their last three games and Bellamy admits it wasn’t great for the expected arm-wrestling with the Panthers.

“If that’s the case, we haven’t had the ideal preparation for this kind of game in the last three weeks,” he said.

“We can only play to our strengths and try to limit opportunities for opponents.”

Panthers assistant coach Cameron Siraldo, himself out of isolation after Covid, appeared in the media on Friday. Evan Cleary is still recovering from a knee infection that kept him from losing to Paramatman last Friday.

Sierraldo said he would catch a next flight to Brisbane before rejoining the Cleary team to make final preparations for the squad before the Storm showdown.


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