Storm to put rest before minor premiership

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Melbourne won't go all out in pursuit of the NRL's minor premiership, despite a titanic battle looming against Penrith in the run to the finals.

Storm coach Craig Bellamy has made no secret of the fact of how highly he rates the minor premiership, having lifted the JJ Giltinan Shield four times since 2011.

The Storm and Panthers appear set to be runaway leaders at the top of the table, with every possibility they could be four points clear of the pack by the end of the weekend.

But Bellamy is the first to admit he has erred in the past by going too hard after top spot, which realistically has very little advantage over coming second come finals.

"Some times you can win a grand final and be the best team for a month, but you win a minor premiership you are the best team for six months," Bellamy said.

"But having said that before we have probably made some mistakes by going for the minor premiership where it might impact what we do in the finals.

"So we certainly don't do that anymore.

"We'll keep an eye on where we are and where it's ideal to be and how we can get there."

Melbourne made a point of resting players in the lead-up to last year's finals, running out a near reserve grade side against St George Illawarra in the last round.

They have again endured a rough year with a month and a half spent away due to COVID-19, and will manage players into the finals.

Players will be given a week off during the next bye next round, while fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen is expected to return after it against Newcastle.

"Obviously part of that is resting players if they know the resting. I thought we did that really well last year and have for a few years actually," Bellamy said.

"We probably made a few mistakes five or six years ago.

"We've been through those different experiences and I think we know how to handle most of them now hopefully."

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