Storm’s Sua ready for Sharks aerial assault: Bellamy

Melissa Woods |

Craig Bellamy is backing Sua Fa’alogo to handle the kicking game of Cronulla’s Nicho Hynes.
Craig Bellamy is backing Sua Fa’alogo to handle the kicking game of Cronulla’s Nicho Hynes.

Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy expects the AFL roots of rookie fullback Sua Fa’alogo to hold him in good stead if he’s targeted by Cronulla’s Nicho Hynes in their NRL ladder-leading clash.

The 21-year-old excitement machine gets his first start in the No.1 jersey in the absence of injured star Ryan Papenhuyzen with the Storm hosting the Sharks at AAMI Park on Saturday night.

Fa’alogo has played in only two NRL matches but already bagged three tries.

Bellamy expects Cronulla halfback Hynes to use his kicking game to pressure the youngster.

“He will, without a doubt,” Bellamy said of the ex-Storm ace.

“But we’ve got all the confidence in the world in Sua, especially under the high ball.

“He was brought up in Victoria playing AFL so hopefully he will be good under the high ball.”

Fa’alogo, who in February extended his Melbourne deal until 2028, played two seasons of Australian Rules with his local Craigieburn club, almost winning the best and fairest in his first year.

As well as Papenhuyzen the Storm are without injured halfback Jahrome Hughes with Tyran Wishart called into the starting side.

Bellamy said he didn’t want Cameron Munster to overplay his hand with his star halves partner missing.

“We don’t want Munster changing his game as he’s obviously one of the elite players in the competition so we want him doing what he does well,” said Bellamy, who announced Friday he would stay on as head coach in 2025.

“Tyran will come in and do a bit of that organising and he won’t be used to the players around him as much as Hughes is but he’s got certain strengths in his game that we want him to express when he gets out there.

“We just want everyone to do their job as best they can and we will see where that takes us.”

Cronulla are in good health heading into the match and have Braydon Trindall back training, although still unavailable for selection after the playmaker allegedly failed roadside illicit drug and alcohol tests.

The match shapes as a barometer of where the table-topping Sharks truly measure up against the top sides.

Yet to play a top-four outfit this season, the Sharks have lost their past five encounters in Melbourne stretching back to 2018.

Meanwhile, Bellamy said he’d had no recent contact with Tevita Pangai Junior as the representative forward considers a return to the NRL after walking out on his big-money contract with the Bulldogs.

“I spoke to Tevita a month or so ago and nothing came of that,” Bellamy said.

“I haven’t heard anything since.”

AAP