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NRL News: Bellamy hopes Asofa-Solomona not targeted, Broncos deserved Walters’ spray

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 giant Storm prop has been charged five times this season, 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, 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 as the Storm and Eels meet on Thursday at CommBank Staduium in a shoot-out for a top-four spot.

“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’s in a tackle last Friday.

Competition heavyweights Melbourne and Parramatta are level on the ladder with the Storm only ahead in fourth on points differential.

Whoever wins will lock in a double chance top-four spot while the loser will be thrust in sudden-death in week one of the finals.

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.” 

Broncos deserved rev-up from coach: Capewell

Brisbane forward Kurt Capewell has hailed the passion of coach Kevin Walters and says his ferocious spray was deserved and a reality check ahead of the Broncos’ crucial NRL clash with St George Illawarra.

Capewell, a down-to-earth forward from the Queensland country town of Charleville, spoke on Wednesday about Walters letting rip at his team following their 53-6 thrashing by Parramatta, when he called the players soft.

Having been in the top four after round 19, the Broncos are in ninth position on the ladder and must beat the Dragons in Sydney on Saturday and hope Wests Tigers upset eighth-placed Canberra at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday to play finals football.

Walters’ spray after last Thursday night’s loss, hot on the heels of Brisbane’s 60-12 drubbing from Melbourne, is still making headlines after reports some Broncos players took it to heart.

“I don’t think any players took it badly. We just got flogged on the paddock,” Capewell said of the coach’s strong words.

Broncos coach Kevin Walters

(Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

“It was within reason. We are all emotional here too. None of us were happy with that game, or the last two weeks, so I understand Kevvie was frustrated. We all were.

“Everyone handles it differently but Kevvie is an emotional person. He wears his heart on his sleeve and that is one thing we love about him as a coach. It was a spray we all deserved.”

Capewell, who won a premiership at Penrith under Ivan Cleary last year, said there was nothing wrong with Walters’ methods.

“Kevvie is a great coach,” he said. “What he brings to our team builds our confidence. When we were winning he kept us rolling. It has been a pleasure this year under Kevvie.”

Capewell said his focus was on “fixing what we got wrong the past two weeks” and he insisted the Broncos could turn their form around.

The Broncos’ slide has gathered pace in recent weeks and Capewell outlined the reasons for it.

“There were probably some cracks we looked over while we were winning,” he said. “It is only simple things. They are little things in our game that you don’t really see when you are winning. Unfortunately it takes a loss to learn sometimes.

“(The losses) probably kicked us while we were down and we lost a bit of confidence …we have a great opportunity a lot of teams would beg to have.

“Mentally we are all in a good space. We have just got to go out and win it. We still have an opportunity to be in the finals.”

The Broncos have recalled Tyson Gamble at five-eighth to replace teenager Ezra Mam. Centre Delouise Hoeter also has received a call-up due to a hamstring injury to Brenko Lee while winger Selwyn Cobbo returns after sitting out last week with fatigue.

“Cobbo has handled everything in his stride,” Capewell said.

“He is a kid from a small country town coming here to the big smoke. He probably gets a bit overawed sometimes with all the people. Everyone knows him now. He is a superstar.

“I think he has handled this year really well. I am excited to see him back out there and hopefully we can get him across the line.”

(Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

Elliott wants to repay Raiders by sealing finals berth

Adam Elliott might have begun his short stint in Canberra as damaged goods following some off-field issues, but he’s looking to cap his stellar reputational repair job with an impactful NRL finals campaign.

His career in limbo not even a year back when Canterbury tore up the last two years and $1 million of his contract following personal indiscretions, Elliott has quickly become a key piece of a resurgent Raider line-up poised to book their place in the top eight on Sunday.

After completing his short and sweet one-year stay in the capital, the 27-year-old lock will begin a three-year deal in Newcastle, which he earned with a career-best season averaging 94 run metres and 2.5 tackle busts per game.

He’ll also head to the Hunter as a much-loved teammate, which Elliott says is all you can ask for.

“Coming down here I was confident I’d be able to find my way into this team and hold the spot down and I hope I’ve been able to add value to the side,” he told reporters.

“I just want to be remembered as a player my teammates wanted to play with. I’ve been in the game long enough now to know that you could be going the best you’ve ever been and people are still gonna knock you.

“You can be going not so great, and some people will still be saying how good you are.

“As long as your teammates want to play beside you each week, that’s all that really matters and as long as these boys want to keep playing with me to the end of the season, that’s all I care about.”

Elliott is one of a number of departing Raiders who farewelled GIO Stadium as their home ground at the weekend, joined by Josh Hodgson (bound for Parramatta), Ryan Sutton (Canterbury) and Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad (NZ Warriors).

Replicating his brilliant Canberra experience through the rest of his career has become a priority moving forward, he said.

“It’s been the most enjoyable year of football I’ve had my whole career,” Elliott said.

“It’s been really refreshing for me being here and I’m definitely sad I’ll be leaving but it’s something I’ll always be very proud of moving forward, and I’ll be back here at the drop of a hat.

“It’s a very tight-knit group here … everyone sort of says that … it’s not until you actually come inside these four walls and you see how much the boys care about each other.

“I feel very lucky that I’ve been able to be a part of it and have a taste of it … now it’s something I want to carry for the rest of my career.”

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