With a minor premiership presentation, milestones and farewells all a part of Melbourne’s last-round clash with Canberra, Storm coach Craig Bellamy says it’s important his team keep focus on the NRL finals.
Melbourne host the Raiders at AAMI Park on Saturday night and are using the match as veteran halfback Cooper Cronk’s home and away farewell, while their skipper Cameron Smith will draw level with Darren Lockyer for the most-ever NRL games played at 355.
Nelson Asofa-Solomona is playing his 50th NRL match while Billy Slater needs just one try to match ex-Sea Eagles forward Steve Menzies for the second most tries ever scored, with the pair trailing former Norths and Manly flyer Ken Irvine.
And Smith will be presented with the JJ Giltinan Shield for winning the NRL minor premiership which they secured two weeks ago.
Despite all of the approaching fanfare, Bellamy said it was vital his team still focused on performing.
“It’s really important that we keep our momentum going,” Bellamy said on Friday.
“It’s a big occasion and all those things are important to us as a club but I don’t think it will be hard because there’s some important things ahead.
“If you go into a game not caring about the result or your performance, well that’s not what we’re about.”
Although the Raiders will miss the finals, Bellamy expected them to be a good warm-up for the play-offs and test his team’s defensive structures.
Despite being 10th on the ladder Canberra rank third in terms of points scored.
“Even though we’re playing a team that’s not in the eight this year they’re a real good footy team so I’m sure they will be keen to go out on a good note,” Bellamy said.
“They’ve got some real dangerous individuals and guys who can carry the ball really well; they’re a big, mobile side.”
Meanwhile, Melbourne confirmed they had signed North Queensland prop Patrick Kaufusi, the younger brother of current Storm forward Felice and ex-Melbourne player Antonio.
Patrick, 23, will replace Cowboys-bound prop Jordan McLean.