Smiling for the cameras ... Melbourne players, including captain Cameron Smith, met with supporters at a small civic reception in Melbourne yesterday. Photo: Getty Images
RYAN HOFFMAN said there was one way to show Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy how much he meant to the team and players.
With uncertainty still surrounding Bellamy's future beyond the end of his contract with the Storm next year, Hoffman said he had ''not been able to wipe the smile off'' the face of the coach, who turned 53 yesterday, during the three days of celebrations since the 14-4 grand final win over Canterbury.
''I think we've shown through our performances how important he is to us,'' Hoffman said.
''We wanted to be successful because he's given us the tools to do it. You've got a responsibility to do that. I'm sure he knows how important he is to this club and how much we appreciate how much he has done.
''We won a grand final together. We know how important he is. What's going to happen with Craig in the future is going to happen and Craig Bellamy as a bloke and as a coach has earned the right to do whatever he wants, and we respect every decision he [makes].
''We want him to stay around, but those sort of things will be sorted out in due time.''
Hoffman said his recall to the Australian Test team for the match against New Zealand on October 13 was a ''career highlight'' and playing representative football had been one of the reasons he returned to Melbourne from Super League club Wigan. But the back-rower, who scored the opening try of the grand final, said he had been disappointed to miss selection for the NSW Origin team this year.
Meanwhile, the now-retired Jaiman Lowe said he would never forget the chance he was given when recruited by the Storm at the end of the 2010 season. He had been working behind a bar in Cairns before he was picked up by South Sydney for part of the season.
''I owe the Melbourne Storm, Craig Bellamy and [football operations manager] Frank Ponissi the world because this was such a far cry from where I was two years ago in that pub,'' Lowe said.