Storm confident in Meaney NRL role switch
Craig Bellamy backed off-season rookie Nick Meaney to handle the pressure of making his Melbourne debut in the untested five-eights position.
A typical full-back during his time at Canterbury, Meaney was forced to plug the hole vacated by suspended Cameron Munster and injured substitute Cooper Johns for their NRL season opener.
The Storm travel to CommBank Stadium to take on the Wests Tigers on Saturday with Meaney among five Melbourne debutants – the others being Xavier Coates, Josh King, Jayden Nikorima and Tyran Wishart – alongside Bellamy.
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Meaney’s switch to half-time is the most eye-catching selection, but the manager had no concerns when asked how he had prepared the 24-year-old for the role change.
“I just give him the No. 6 sweater and he’s off,” smiled Bellamy.
“He hasn’t trained much there and we are all aware that our usual number 6 is not playing.
“He (Meaney) has all the attributes of a five-eighth and he hasn’t played in that position too often, but he certainly has the skills to be able to play there.
“The combination won’t be great but he worked really well there with our left side and we’re sure he’ll get the job done.”
In a boost for Bellamy as he bleeds Meaney as a playmaker, flying back Ryan Papenhuyzen is in fine form after an ankle injury.
Meaney’s opposing player, meanwhile, is one Bellamy says his team will need to be wary of.
Tigers rookie Jackson Hastings is making his return to the NRL after being exiled to the Super League following a controversial exit from Manly in 2018.
Hastings, 26, explained how he matured in England, reaching two Grand Finals, winning Test caps and being anointed Man of Steel.
“He came back a more complete player than when he was here the first time,” Bellamy said.
“He is older and more experienced. He was a guy young enough to go to England.
“He looks bigger and stronger in contact and certainly backs himself up, which he always has.
“Obviously, with the experience he has, he’s a better football player than when he left.”