LEEDS RHINOS’ never-say-die spirit has been hailed by Melbourne Storm boss Craig Bellamy ahead of tomorrow’s Downer World Club Challenge.
Assessing Leeds, Bellamy said: “They are a really good side and quite an experienced side. What I really admire about them is they are never beaten and they don’t beat themselves. I watched the game the other day against Hull [KR] and they really had every right to not come back and win that game – with them next day having to travel and so on – but they are a tough, gritty team and I really admire the way they defend, especially close to their tryline.
“They work really hard for each other. If you get a team that does that, you are going to have a successful footy team.”
Rhinos are two games into Betfred Super League, but the NRL has yet to kick off.
Bellamy said that “certainly helps them”, but he added: “We haven’t had to travel so it probably evens out in the end. A few of our players played in a trial the other day, but it was 36 degrees so players who will be playing on Friday didn’t get much time. We will be a little bit underdone, but the Leeds guys have had to do the travelling and that’s not easy.”
NRL clubs have had a love-hate relationship with the World Club Challenge, but Bellamy insisted Storm are treating the tie seriously. He stressed: “You have to win your own competition to be in it. To do that at Super League level or NRL level is a big thing and hard to do, so it is a big occasion. We used to like going over there [to England] because we always used to go for 12-14 days so we had chance for the group to combine a little bit as well – though we didn’t enjoy the weather!”
He added: “But I think the Leeds guys have enjoyed it here. Sometimes when you are in cold weather, as we are here in winter, you go somewhere a bit sunnier.
“It will help those guys when they go back, but it is really nice for us to play in front of our home fans after playing Leeds three times over there.”