Melbourne Storm playmaker Ryley Jacks fended off Cooper Johns to start against the Sydney Roosters Picture:Wayne Ludbey
Melbourne Storm playmaker Ryley Jacks fended off Cooper Johns to start against the Sydney Roosters Picture:Wayne Ludbey

Big game experience over a baptism of fire

CRAIG Bellamy has opted for big game experience over giving youngster Cooper Johns a baptism of fire against the formidable Sydney Roosters.

Ryley Jacks will instead return to the fold, with the youngest son of NRL funnyman Matthew Johns forced to cool his heals as 18th man.

As Bellamy prepares for a stint without superstar five-eighth Cameron Munster, the mastercoach said experience that Jacks has would be invaluable.

But a day out from the mouthwatering clash with the back-to-back premiers at Suncorp Stadium, Bellamy said both playmakers had been in the mix.

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“We look at this game against the Roosters, who are head and shoulders above anyone else at the moment, so we thought Ryley was the right guy,” Bellamy said.

“He already has had two games and was tremendous against Newcastle.

“He is solid and has a lot of first grade experience which we think is the right way to go for this game.”

Bellamy said the lack of a secondary competition meant it was difficult to just throw in fringe NRL players like Johns, Chris Lewis and Albert Vete.

He wasn’t critical of the decision to cancel the Intrust Super Cup and Premiership competitions but said the ramifications were being felt on every NRL club.

“Cooper has come into consideration no doubt, but it is very hard for those guys to impress when they aren’t playing,” he said.

“A lot of players and clubs are in the same boat… they are relying on a good attitude and training. It’s challenging.”

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Bellamy said Munster, who is out with a grade 2 medial tear, would be missed on and off the field.

“If he hasn’t been our best player, he’s been in our top two,” he said.

“He’s really grown up this year and has added a whole lot to us off the field.

“He’s really matured and we will miss him.”

Bellamy eluded that Cameron Smith could spend time in the halves tomorrow night.

“There could be a couple of swaps around at some stage,” Bellamy hinted.

“With Brandon (Smith) on our bench, he really adds a lot to our team. Not only at dummy half but around the ruck as well.

“We have a good plan there and can move Cameron into the halves if we need to.”