A touch of class from the Melbourne Storm didn’t go unnoticed after their big win over the Warriors.
After their 50-6 drubbing at Kogarah captain Cameron Smith, coach Craig Bellamy, and assistant Ryan Hoffman were seen addressing the Warriors team on Friday night.
It’s been rough trot for the New Zealand team after the club sacked coach Stephen Kearney from his post last week. On top of that the entire club agreed to leave their families back home and move to Australia for an indefinite period during coronavirus lockdown for the NRL competition to restart. The club has also had a massive injury toll and amassed a 2-7 record this year.
It’s understood the players are feeling vulnerable without being able to see their loved ones during this difficult time.
Fox Sports cameras captured Smith, Bellamy, and Hoffman speaking to the players and staff after the game.
Hoffman played for both clubs and now is on Bellamy’s coaching staff.
“There are some former Storm players currently playing for the Warriors, as well as Ryan Hoffman is a former Warriors player as well,” Kevin Walters said.
“I think it’s great. I think everyone in the game feels for the Warriors, what they’re going through.
“Sometimes a voice from another club, saying hang in there fellas we appreciate what you’re doing, could be the turning factor for the Warriors and where their season is heading.”
The players were reportedly upset over the sacking of Kearney during the week with reports of a mutiny brewing in their ranks.
To see a rival coach approach and speak to the opposing team after giving them a hiding is unheard of in rugby league and for any other sport for that matter.
It was an awkward moment for interim Warriors coach Todd Payten since it was his first game in charge of the team after Kearney’s exit.
But there must be a sense around the competition that all is not well in the Warriors camp and they’re struggling under the circumstances – so the leading figures from the Storm acted.
We don’t what was said yet – but its fair to say the Melbourne guys probably wanted to express appreciation for the sacrifice they’ve endured.
In the post-match press conference, Payten conceded players leaving to return home to Auckland is a possibility – and he won’t stand in their way.
“There’s a possibility that may happen. I’m not going to stand in their way. I don’t think any of us will stand in their way,” Payten said.
“But we’ll cross that when it happens.”
Players and staff will meet with NRL officials on Saturday to address their concerns, chief of which is allowing families to fly over to their base in Gosford.
Players with families based in Australia have already entered camp, adding to the frustrations of those who are away from relatives.
It is understood the league is trying to work with federal authorities on granting exemptions for players’ families to fly across the Tasman.
“The thing that’s getting them at the moment is the uncertainty around the families and are they coming over,” Payten said.
“Another hard thing is that Australian families, they’re already here, so they can see that around them.
“We’re actually having a meeting tomorrow with a couple of big dogs at the NRL to have some clarity around that. That’s where things are at at the moment.
“So we’ll know more tomorrow.”
Munster injured his knee against Warriors
Payten said the team’s current displacement, as well as Kearney’s surprise departure, was no reason for their limp effort against the Storm.
“Everyone misses their family, that’s still not a good enough reason to perform the way we’re performing,” Payten said.
“That should be the reason why we’re actually pull our finger out and fight our butt off, is to do our families justice, to all the people back home.”
Payten questioned their commitment following the defeat, and threatened to make changes based on defensive desire.
“I did tell the lads downstairs that the team will be picked on effort and defensive capabilities moving forward,” he said.
“If they’re willing to put themselves in the picture on effort, and fight and scrap, then yeah… I don’t care what they offer us from an attack point of view.”