Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy has sympathy for Canberra and the heavy diet of charter flights awaiting them in the first seven weeks of the revamped NRL.
Bellamy, whose team host the Raiders on Saturday in a mouth-watering round three fixture, believes Ricky Stuart’s team could become worn down by a game day routine that will always involve two flights until at least round nine.
Canberra will play their “home” games at Sydney’s Campbelltown Stadium, requiring short return flights from the capital.
It’s not envied by Bellamy, whose home fixtures will be at their regular AAMI Stadium venue in Melbourne.
“I think if you’re doing it every week, and the Raiders are going to be doing it even though they’re only short flights to Sydney … I think that’s pretty difficult,” Bellamy told NRL 360.
“If you’re getting home late and you’ve got some short turnarounds it could work against you.
“It will take a bit of managing, without a doubt, if you’ve got a bit of travel on.”
Bellamy recalled the marathon day when his team caught a charter flight to Melbourne after their round two fixture against the Sharks in Sydney in March, shortly before the competition was shut down because of COVID-19.
They didn’t arrive home until 2.30am.
Stuart has said he is confident the Campbelltown schedule will change after round nine, believing Canberra’s regular GIO Stadium venue is ready for use and not far from getting a local government green light.