Bellamy sad to see trio leave

James Gordon

Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy has admitted his sadness at seeing trio Brett Finch, Ryan Hoffman and Jeff Lima leave the club to join Wigan for next season.

Bellamy’s former assistant, Michael Maguire, has swooped on the Storm’s well-documented salary cap issues to take the three men over to Super League for 2011 and beyond.

The Storm coach said: “It’s always a sad time when you have to say farewell to one player, let alone three.

“Ryan, as an example, has been here for eight seasons since he was 18, and in that time I’ve been fortunate enough to watch him develop from a boy to a man.

“These three players will forever be remembered by all at the club for the contributions that they have made both the Melbourne Storm and to the game.

“We have seven weeks now to send them out of this club on the right note. They’ve been great servants of rugby league in this country.”

The spirit within the Storm camp after a turbulent season was also indicated by comments made by the three players, who all expressed their gratitude to Bellamy and the club.

Half-back Finch, who has made more than 250 appearances in the NRL, said: “This club gave me an opportunity to continue in the NRL after I left Parramatta but playing in England has always been in the back of my mind.

“I’ve always wanted to play there and I’m extremely glad I’m going to such a strong club with a strong value set and a proud tradition.”

Back-rower Hoffman, 26, has spent his entire first grade career in Melbourne, making 163 appearances, while Lima, 28, has made 91 appearances for the Storm.

Hoffman said: “I’m proud and honoured to have been able to play for the Storm.

“Likewise I’m excited about playing for one of if not the most famous rugby league clubs in the world and becoming part of that club’s already great history.”