Squad depth key to NRL success: Bellamy

Melissa Woods
Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy says the talent pool among NRL clubs will be tested like never before

Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy believes squad depth will be a major key in deciding the NRL premiership in this truncated season.

As NRL clubs got back into training ahead of the May 28 restart, Bellamy warned that under the new stringent match-day conditions, clubs would rely on more players than usual.

"Without a doubt, depth will be important," Bellamy said on Friday.

"Instead of 17 you're now allowed to name 20 and you've got to take 20 to the game because if someone's got a sniffle or someone has got a high temperature when they are tested going into the dressing room before the game, they are going to be pulled out.

"All clubs will use more players throughout the year than ever."

Bellamy said that history had proven that teams that used the least amount of players through the season had the most success but that's set to be turned on its head.

"Usually the team that wins the comp doesn't use a heap of players because that tells you you're not getting too many injuries and you're able to keep your combination and flow but that's going to be one thing that's going to change this year," he said.

He added they planned to substitute players in training more than they ever had to prepare for that.

The Storm wrapped up their first week of training in their new Albury base, with 19 of the 32 electing to stay for the weekend rather than return to Melbourne.

The club has already decided to remain training in the border town until at least Tuesday next week.

Skipper Cameron Smith, who was given permission to remain in Melbourne for family reasons, will join the squad ahead of their Monday training session.

Bellamy said Albury council's decision to ban them from the town's main rugby league ground had worked in their favour with their AFL ground replacement giving them more room to meet social distancing commitments.

He said the team was enjoying their time in camp together after more than a month in isolation.

The dining room at their hotel is big enough that they can eat meals together rather than have them delivered to their rooms.

"There's a bit of relief that we're not sitting a home with the same people all the time - there's a few more people around," Bellamy said.

""I didn't really think about how happy we would be to see people you haven't seen for a while who we are connected with."