Bellamy hits back at ‘underdone’ NAS poaching talk

Murray Wenzel |

‘Underdone’ prop Nelson Asofa-Solomona is not yet ready to return for Melbourne, Craig Bellamy says.
‘Underdone’ prop Nelson Asofa-Solomona is not yet ready to return for Melbourne, Craig Bellamy says.

Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy has dismissed fears of a poaching raid on Nelson Asofa-Solomona while the wrecking-ball prop proves his fitness in reserve grade.

The 28-year-old was again left out of the Storm’s NRL side to face Brisbane on Thursday, named for a second-straight week for NSW Cup outfit North Sydney.

That follows a pre-season interrupted by hamstring issues and reports the 184-game veteran’s fitness level had not pleased his coach.

Bellamy said that was a “private conversation between him and me” and bristled at suggestions other clubs would be circling the 15-Test New Zealand battering ram, who is contracted to the Storm until the end of 2027.

St George Illawarra could be among the potential suitors, armed with salary-cap space once Zac Lomax leaves at the end of this season.

“They can say what they like, but at the end of the day he’s got a contract,” Bellamy said.

“He’s not in our 17 at the moment. That’s a private conversation between me and him.

“It’s frustrating for all of us. We know how much he adds to the team when he’s at his best.”

Bellamy was hopeful Cameron Munster (groin) will play against the Broncos but was unwilling to put a timeline on Asofa-Solomona’s NRL return.

“Big guys like him, they need to train and be playing,” he said.

“He’s a bit underdone but when we think he’s had enough time … he’s going to be a real asset for us.

“I don’t know how long it’s going to take. He’s training full-on now and that’s a good sign.”

AAP