Craig Bellamy bemoans disappointing elimination final loss as club legends depart

Melbourne Storm have been eliminated in the first week of finals for the first time in eight years, after being beaten by Canberra 28-20 at AAMI Park.

The loss marked a disappointing end to the year for the Storm, compounded by four club stalwarts in Jesse and Kenny Bromwich, Felise Kaufusi and Brandon Smith all departing in 2022.

“For me, I’m just so disappointed, more so for them. I think they deserved to go out better than that,” a disheartened Craig Bellamy said post-match.

“They’ve been tremendous for us- all of them.

“They’ve done a lot for our club… It’s just disappointing we’re sending them out on this note, to be quite honest.”

The Storm was left to rue uncharacteristic lapses in defence, which ultimately cost them dearly.

They had the Raiders on the backfoot for large periods of the match, but either couldn’t provide the finishing touch in attack or were sucker punched in defence.

“They scored a couple of soft ones,” Bellamy noted.

“A couple in the first half were as soft as butter. I don’t know where those tries actually came from.”

The coach made a number of changes to his starting side, switching his backrow before kick-off to run with the larger bodies of Tui Kamikamica and Brandon Smith.

However, they were met with stiff resistance by Joe Tapine and Josh Papalii who lay the platform for the Raiders time and time again.

“We let too many points in, you don’t win semi-finals games letting the opposition score 28,” Bellamy said.

“It’s disappointing. It’s been a hard year and a long year with the injuries that we’ve had and obviously a few other things happening.

“But to go out on that performance, especially defensively, is disappointing.”

The loss proved to be a swansong for four key players in Melbourne’s successes over the past decade.

“I was saying to the boys how it hasn’t really sunk in yet,” Bromwich said.

“Once I have to empty out my locker and get ready to move on, it will really sink in.”

Meanwhile, Bellamy was effusive in his praise for his departing stars.

“They’ve done a lot for our club,” the coach said.

“Kafusi followed his two brothers here and has been here longer than them. He’s turned into a State of Origin and Australia player in that time.

“And the other three have all played for New Zealand. They’ve done a lot of great things for the club and for themselves.

“It probably still hasn’t sunk in. The Bromwich brothers have been around for so long, I’ll probably come back first day of pre-season expecting them to still be here. But they’re not going to be here.

“They’ve been our leaders this year. It’s not an easy job taking over from guys like Cameron Smith and Cooper [Cronk] and Billy [Slater].

“The club has always been their number one priority, not themselves.

“I think that’s probably the number one trait, when you’re looking for leaders.”

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