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Hoffman sings coach's praises

RYAN Hoffman said he believed there was one way to show Storm 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 in 2013, 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. The best attribute a coach can have is to have players want to play for him and that's what we certainly do at this club,'' 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.''

The Storm fronted a small crowd at a civic reception at Southbank yesterday, the team's arrival delayed by one hour because of the traffic chaos caused by the closure of the Domain and Burnley tunnels.

Hoffman said his recall to the Australian Test team was a ''career highlight'' and playing representative football had been one of the reasons why he returned to Melbourne after playing for English Super League club Wigan last year. After an impressive season, which was capped by the opening try of the grand final, the Storm back-rower was this week picked to play for the Kangaroos against New Zealand on October 13.

The 28-year-old said he had been disappointed to have missed selection for the New South Wales state-of-origin team this year, but he had never given up hope the Test selectors would think differently.

''I was disappointed but there was no point kicking stones about it. They picked what they thought the best team was and I was fine with that. I knew that I had to keep working hard and I never lost confidence in my ability,'' said Hoffman, who last played for the Kangaroos in 2009.

''I was very confident in my ability. I knew I still had the ability to play rep footy, that's why I came back to Australia, to be quite honest … I can't wait to get back into the fold and get back into training.''