Craig Bellamy during his brief stint at New South Wales coach in 2010.
Craig Bellamy during his brief stint at New South Wales coach in 2010. DEAN LEWINS

Bellamy’s blues traced back to his own success

ONE of the great mysteries of modern-day rugby league is why Craig Bellamy failed so miserably as NSW State of Origin coach.

In any era Bellamy would have been hailed an outstanding coach. But under the incessant surveillance of today's voracious public and in the glare a ravenous media, he stands as tall as any other coach in the game.

His record at Melbourne is phenomenal. Apart from 2010, the year they played for no points because of salary cap breaches, the Storm has never failed to make the finals under Bellamy's 14-year tenure. And even that year - had they been eligible for points - they would have finished in equal-fifth spot.

Although his coaching career is not over yet, Bellamy will no doubt be remembered for four indelible reasons - Cameron Smith, Billy Slater, Greg Inglis and Cooper Cronk.

Each is an out-and-out champion and a couple of them will unquestionably be inducted as Immortals one day. And, as a quartet their names will forever be synonymous with Melbourne, a city in which rugby league is regarded as a somewhat second-class citizen.

But Bellamy is much, much more than the coach who brought four youngsters into grade and guided them to the pinnacle of their chosen sport. He has proved just as successful mentoring - excuse the disparaging terms - also rans and has beens.

And he proved that yet again last Friday night as the Storm inflicted the biggest defeat on the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium and took Bellamy's record against his former club to 19 wins in 28 games.

Admittedly the standouts were Cronk and Smith, veterans in arguably career-best form. Both toyed with a Broncos team that fielded eight internationals.

But there was also Cheyse Blair, Ryan Morgan, Blake Green, Dale Finucane and Marika Koroibete, players shunted by other NRL clubs. As he has done countless times in the past, Bellamy has turned the unwanted into winners.

And lighting up Suncorp was 20-year-old Fijian winger Suliasi Vunivalu who was not even named in the Storm's 25-man NRL squad at the start of the season. He has played a mere 30 games of rugby league, made his NRL debut for the Storm in round seven and his hat-trick against the Broncos takes his tally of tries to 16 in 10 games.

Bellamy not only makes average players stand-outs, he has an innate ability to recognise skill, mentor that talent and transform them into champions.

In his current roster Jessie Bromwich, Tohu Harris, Cameron Munster, Will Chambers, Kevin Proctor and a young giant named Nelson Asofa-Solomona are prime examples.

So maybe Bellamy's failure as Blues coach should be traced back to the opposition against which he coached - Smith, Cronk, Slater, Inglis et al.


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