Coach Bellamy backs his Storm enforcer

·3-min read

Craig Bellamy won't be asking enforcer Nelson Asofa-Solomona to tone down his aggression ahead of Melbourne's high-stakes NRL clash with Parramatta on Thursday night.

The competition heavyweights are level pegging on the ladder with the Storm only ahead in fourth on points differential, with the loser at CommBank Stadium thrust in sudden-death in week one of the finals.

The visitors were dealt a heavy blow on match eve, losing star halfback Jahrome Hughes to calf tightness.

Asofa-Solomona has been charged five times this season, the giant Storm prop paying almost $12,000 in fines for his lengthy rap sheet.

The NRL's head of football Graham Annesley this week put repeat offenders, including Asofa-Solomona, on notice by warning the match review committee could beef up charges.

But coach Bellamy has no plans to try to change the Kiwi international's tackling technique.

"He hasn't been suspended, he's been fined and there's a lot of other guys fined," Bellamy said on Wednesday.

"The committee who put the charges out, they haven't seen it as that severe that they've given him weeks.

"At the end of the day we want Nelson to play his footy, how he plays when he plays well, and that's what we need him to continue with."

Bellamy said he "hoped" Asofa-Solomona wouldn't come under special scrutiny given the media attention since he appeared to drop his elbow into the head of Roosters winger Joseph Suaalii in a tackle last Friday.

Bringing Cooper Johns into the starting line-up for Hughes, Bellamy said they needed a better start than in last-round's loss to the Roosters to trump the Eels.

"There's a bit riding on it," Bellamy said.

"It's a big difference between fourth and fifth, getting the two shots with fourth and sudden death in fifth.

"We've got to make sure we continue our effort from last week in the last 60 minutes and hopefully we can do it for 80."

Parramatta have won their last three clashes with Melbourne and have won seven of their 10 home games this season.

Bellamy predicted it would again come down to the wire and said the Eels - keen offloaders - were difficult to defensively match up on.

"It's like they plan to offload and get people in position to accept the offloads and move the ball from there and that's hard to handle for long periods of time in game."

He said they needed to stop halfback Mitchell Moses, who leads the competition for try assists.

"He has got himself a bit more involved than he has in the past and his speed is the thing that can worry you," Bellamy said of Moses.

"He's got a really good kicking game as well so we will have to be be very aware of where he is and what he's up to and hopefully we can blunt some of his effectiveness."

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