Bellamy says Coates trained for his glorious aerial try

Melissa Woods |

Storm’s Xavier Coates flies over for his brilliant match-winning try against the Warriors.
Storm’s Xavier Coates flies over for his brilliant match-winning try against the Warriors.

Craig Bellamy says Xavier Coates’s aerial acrobatics to score the match-winning try against the Warriors comes after one of the best pre-seasons he’s seen by a player in his many years as Melbourne coach.

Coates scored in the dying seconds of the AAMI Park match on Saturday to snatch a 30-26 victory from the Warriors, with the winger taking flight from almost five metres out and managing to stay in touch as he planted the ball down from a great height.

Bellamy said the 23-year-old practised such feats at training and was one of the hardest workers in the team, with his improved defence this season also notable.

“He didn’t just did do that tonight because that’s what needed doing, he practices that,” the coach said.

“Since he’s been here, he’s been one of our hardest workers and he’s probably had nearly the best pre-season of anyone we’ve ever had here.

“Just with hard work but also doing the things like catching high balls, the things he needs to do in his job.

“He practices that and if he doesn’t practice that, he don’t score that try tonight.

“He’s one hell of an athlete but what he’s doing at the moment isn’t surprising anyone here because we know he’s put in the work and he’s getting rewards for that and we’re getting rewards for that.”

Bellamy also had praise for Storm fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen, who scored twice with his second in the 77th minute to put the Storm back in the game.

Returning from a badly broken leg, which followed a shattered knee-cap which threatened his career, Papenhuyzen has lost none of his blistering speed off the mark.

Bellamy said it was great to see his confidence returning and predicted he would continue to improve.

“He scored the two tries and had a couple of line breaks and whatever but I think he can improve on what he’s done the last two weeks as well,” Bellamy said.

“He’s been out of the game a long time but you can just feel that his confidence is returning.

“The last two weeks he’s got a lot of confidence back from the three or four games he’s played this year and think he’ll get even better and better.

“He’s a great leader in our team too … which really helps the team and the younger players so he’s got more to contribute.”

AAP