It’s Bellamy versus Hasler once again
Melbourne Storm are about to face their toughest opponent - time. (AAP Image/Julian Smith)
An author – I can’t recall who – said writing was like trying to strain s**t through a sock. Craig Bellamy must know the feeling.
With the exception of a minor premiership, the coach recognised by his peers as one of the greatest of the modern era, has officially won nothing.
Next Sunday he gets an opportunity to finally win a premiership – against Des Hasler, another great coach who won two premierships with players who have openly admitted their debt to the work ethic template of Melbourne Storm.
They’re true eccentrics, these two. Bellamy is a rabid talker and slobberer. Hasler verbalises like he’s straining something through a sock - dry lips pushing words out with such painful gradualness.
Watching them, it’s hard to believe the power they hold. If the NRL is serious about making the competition more even it should include the coaches in the salary cap.
Anyway, it’s right that their two teams are meeting in the big one: the Minor Premiers versus the wouldabeen Minor Premiers if it hadn’t been for State of Origin.
The 70,000 spectators and those waving flags at ANZ Stadium last night were a magnificent sight but the atmosphere down in Melbourne on Friday was spine tingling. The crowd of 25,500 has been ridiculed by some but it sounded like 125,000. The poor Manly contingent in the south east corner waved their “40-0 and under the cap” signs but were not heard from all night. The commentators should allow the crowd noise to do more of the talking.
I must admit I almost didn’t go to the game. I’m a spectator-coward, you see: I can play cut throat finals without a problem but find it almost unbearable to watch them.
Time spent riding all over Melbourne to avoid watching Collingwood play (and lose)grand finals between 1977 and 1981 has not changed me.
The courage to enter AAMI Park came from a small but potent bottle of La Wambrechies, a French Belgian-style strong ale which is fortified further by the addition of gin (you’ve got to love the French).
I needn’t have worried of course. Manly had an awful night beginning with Anthony Watmough coughing the ball up in the opening minutes and ending with Brent Kite doing the same in the final one. I admired these two for the noble comments during the week that they had used the Storm – their fiercest rival – as inspiration for their success.
Granted a smooth flat surface on which to drive by Manly, the Storm resembled an Aston Martin. Alright, there may have been some Toyota parts under the hood, some second hand Daewoo bits too, but it was still a beautiful looking machine.
Can Bellamy’s set plays, few outright champions and hardworking pack of forward hacks overcome Hasler’s little boy Barba and his gang of huge, mobile forwards?
I’m not completely sure. Although I’m fairly certain I won’t be watching.
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