Steering the Melbourne Storm to all but one NRL finals series since 2005, coach Craig Bellamy knows a thing or two about tapering his team.
With two rounds remaining, including Saturday night’s clash with defending champion Sydney Roosters in Sydney, Bellamy feels things are falling into place.
“When you’re really prepared everything at this time of year comes easy in terms of your preparation and there’s no distraction,” said Bellamy, with the club only missing the 2010 finals when stripped of points for salary cap cheating.
“Your planning and training goes smoothly and when you’ve got good preparation you’ve usually got a good performance and we’re in that mode at the moment.”
Currently fifth, the Storm have the chance to draw level on 32 points alongside the third-placed Roosters and Penrith, who take on second-placed Manly on Sunday.
In their last meeting in Melbourne in round 13 the Roosters rolled the Storm 32-12, although the home side was missing superstars Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater.
“Last time we were outmuscled by them but we’ve got a bigger, more mature team this time so hopefully we can handle them a bit better,” Bellamy said.
“Their outside backs are also very strong and can get their sets off to a good start so that’s one area we need to defend well.”
While plenty was riding on their final two games Bellamy said that crowded competition ladder meant if ever a team outside the top four was to win, this was the season.
“This competition is so close if it’s going to be a year when teams could do it from the bottom of the top eight, this year could be the year.”
If Melbourne do secure a top four finals berth they feel they’ve earned it, with the Roosters match their fifth away game in the last six weeks.
It’s also the team’s second five-day turnaround in that period after playing against the Panthers in Sydney on Monday night.
Bellamy felt the scheduling was almost laughable.
“I don’t know if ridiculous is the right word,” Bellamy said.
“We always talk about the care and welfare of our players but to put us through that, it’s wrong.
“To have a five-day turnaround between away games is real tough but to have two of those in a month, or two in five games, is ultra tough.
“Hopefully it will be something that will be looked at in the pre-season and mightn’t happen again.”