Will Chambers of the Melbourne Storm.
Will Chambers of the Melbourne Storm. TRACEY NEARMY

Old dog Bellamy brings out new tricks

IT was enough to make a couple of champion centres if not weep, at least gush.

Craig Bellamy has revived an old rugby league trick plenty thought had gone the way of the dinosaurs, contested scrums and Darren Lockyer's voice box.

Melbourne showed off its newest backline play - the old centre-to-centre switch - in its first run of 2017 last weekend, with Will Chambers and Cheyse Blair linking repeatedly throughout a 12-6 disposal of the Bulldogs.

It worked a treat, laying on the opening try for Blair through a shortside raid, before almost coming off again in the second half as well.

Fox Sports pundits Mark Gasnier and Justin Hodges, with a combined 28 Tests for Australia and 26 Origins at centre, were beside themselves with it.

"I loved it ... it's outside the Melbourne Storm's box," Gasnier exclaimed in analysing the play that led to Melbourne's first four-pointer.

"Will Chambers, he comes all the way from the right-hand side. The play's broken down. Instead of going back he goes straight to the short side and backs himself.

"Bang. How often do you see that? A centre playing to a centre. Chambers skips to the outside and puts Blair straight through."

The consistent regeneration of Melbourne's attack really is something to behold.

Not many sides could lose Billy Slater, Kevin Proctor and Tohu Harris (out for two months with a foot injury) and still pack a genuine punch without a trio so crucial to their edge plays.

The Warriors should be on edge themselves tonight. Their defence down the left and right corridors has been marshmallow soft more than once in recent times.

In casting back to the eras of Mick Cronin and Steve Ella, Mark McGaw and Andrew Ettinghausen, Reg Gasnier and anyone lucky enough to partner him, Bellamy comes armed with a tactic many in the game haven't seen in an age, let alone defended against.

"When you're a centre, you're either on the right or the left," Hodges said.

"It depends on the coach whether you're allowed to roam.

"That there is unbelievable - to see two centres coming together."

That is the Bellamy effect. Always at least one step ahead of the rest, even going backwards.

News Corp Australia

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