Bel­lamy cool with Cronk de­fec­tion

Mercury (Hobart) - - SPORT - NICK SMART

MEL­BOURNE Storm coach Craig Bel­lamy says he un­der­stands Cooper Cronk’s de­fec­tion to NRL ri­vals the Syd­ney Roost­ers, even if he doesn’t like it.

Speak­ing for the first time since Cronk said he would play on at the Roost­ers, Bel­lamy said he ac­cepted the star play­maker’s de­ci­sion.

“I don’t par­tic­u­larly like him play­ing for an­other team, but at the end of the day it’s his de­ci­sion on what is best for him and what he wants to do,” Bel­lamy said.

“He’ll al­ways have my sup­port and the club’s sup­port in what­ever he wants to do.

“He has been a won­der­ful player and a won­der­ful per­son at our club. I would have pre­ferred that he didn’t [play on], but I can un­der­stand why he has, as you’re a long time re­tired. He ob­vi­ously wanted to play on and that’s how it has worked out.”

Storm will meet English Su­per League cham­pi­ons Leeds Rhi­nos in the World Club Chal­lenge at AAMI Park on Fe­bru­ary 16.

Storm’s Aus­tralian World Cup rep­re­sen­ta­tives will have only a few weeks’ prepa­ra­tion but Bel­lamy still ex­pects to field a strong side.

They will also miss de­parted stars Jor­dan McLean (Cow­boys) and Tohu Har­ris (War­riors) as well as Cronk.

Bel­lamy said he ex­pected Storm’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive stars to play in the clash.

“At this stage in their ca­reers they love play­ing in big games and this is a re­ally big game,” he said.

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