Storm wary of Manly threat to NRL record

Melissa Woods
Melbourne expect a tough trip to Manly where they aim to extend a proud record under Craig Bellamy

Fast-starting Melbourne have owned NRL round one since Craig Bellamy took over but the veteran coach is wary about meeting Manly in their season opener on Sunday.

Under Bellamy's watch, going back to 2003, the Storm have stunningly never lost in round one.

"We work pretty hard during the pre-season and are reasonably fit at the start of a season, so I don't know whether that is a factor," Bellamy said on Thursday.

"It will be a great test this week, but I don't think there is any great secret other than good preparation throughout the pre-season."

Manly have been on the rise, jumping from 15th in 2018 to play finals last season, and Bellamy expected a stern test in front of a volatile Brookvale crowd.

Last season a Manly fan confronted then Storm centre Will Chambers before being handcuffed and removed by police while their rivalry reached boiling point back in 2011 with the infamous "Battle of Brookvale".

"They are a big physical side and they are hard to play anywhere, let alone at Brookvale," Bellamy said.

"They've got the Trbojevic boys (Tom and Jake) there, (Daly) Cherry-Evans, Dylan Walker ... it's always a real contest."

The biggest change to the minor premiers' line-up is in the centres, following the departure of Chambers and Curtis Scott.

Bellamy opted for Marion Seve to partner winger Suliasi Vunivalu on the right edge ahead of Brenko Lee, who joined Melbourne this season from the Gold Coast.

Bellamy said he'd been impressed by Lee, who is at his fourth NRL club, but admitted he needed to see more from the 24-year-old.

"It was a reasonably tough decision this week as Brenko trialled really well," Bellamy said.

"We think there are a couple of other things we need him to work hard on, so we've gone for Marion this week.

"But Brenko's a really talented footy player and I am sure he will play a lot of first grade this year."

Bellamy is also still hopeful the one-year trade with their hooker Harry Grant and Wests Tigers' centre Paul Momirovski will go through but had no final confirmation.

Meanwhile, giant prop Nelson Asofa-Solomona must get through their remaining training sessions to prove he has recovered from lingering hamstring issues.