Melbourne Storm manager Craig Bellamy has defended enforcer Nelson Asofa-Solomona, calling him the NRL’s ‘punching bag’ after he was blamed for the team’s loss to the Eels after a series of “cheap shots”.
Brandon Storm was flagged Thursday night for a late tackle on Mitchell Moses in Parramatta’s 22-14 win, which infuriated Bellamy.
“I think it was probably a little late, but it definitely wasn’t high,” Bellamy said.
“His arms were around his waist so look I don’t know if that was put on the report because of his reputation I guess maybe that’s the word to use I’m not quite sure sure fact.
“There was definitely nothing around his head, so it might have been a little late, but I don’t think there’s much more to it.”
Two-time premiership winner Asofa-Solomona has come under fire in recent weeks for a series of intentional and dirty acts – leading footy pundit Phil Rothfield to brand him ‘the worst cheap shot dealer of rugby league”.
The striker is a repeat offender, having been charged 18 times during his seven-year career and recently fined $3,000 for dropping his elbow on Joseph Suaalii’s chin during a fiery clash with the Roosters.
The recent media storm prompted the NRL to stipulate that repeat offenders risk raising the charge from a tier one to a tier two before the final, which Bellamy found unfair at the end of the season.
‘Why react now because of a story that turned into a story for three or four days about the same guy? Bellamy asked.
“There are plenty of other incidents as serious as Nelson’s, but we decided to go after Nelson this week, so he was the punching bag.”
“If they want to change the rules because of that, well, ultimately it’s their decision.”
“It’s not my decision, so if they want to change the rules, ultimately it’s not my problem because I can’t control that.
“But if they want to change the rules, great.”
Bellamy was asked if his incendiary striker was unfairly targeted because of his reputation.
“Just with this incident tonight, I thought it was a bit late, so that’s fair,” Bellamy said.
“But I don’t think too many guys are blamed for being this late.
But it was nowhere near the head. As if his arms were around his trash.
“So unless I saw the wrong incident, but that’s the one I saw.”