WIZ: Bellamy NRL’s master coach

Gary Freeman Columnist

By Gary Freeman, Gary Freeman is a Roar Expert

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    Craig Bellamy takes a Gatorade shower after the Storm's 2012 grand final win. (AAP Image/Ben Zonner)

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    Any doubts that may have lingered over Craig Bellamy’s coaching ability were comprehensively tackled into touch via a stunning whole team display in yesterday afternoon’s grand final.

    Going up against fellow coaching heavy weight Des Hasler in the Strom’s first decider since the salary cap scandal, Bellamy appeared tense before the game, however for every bit wound up Bellamy was his players were cool, calm and collected.

    The Storm’s big players shone in the clutch situations as expected, however it was Bellamy’s spare parts players who laid the platform for the big three to perform.

    Bellamy and his coaching staff’s ability to take fringe first graders and late bloomers and turn them into key components of a successful Strom machine has become a trademark of the franchise, and this victory is sweet reward for their rebuilding efforts since they were stripped of their 07 and 09 titles.

    This is not to say the Bulldogs were disgraced last night though, far from it.

    Whilst they probably suffered from a lack of big game experience in their halves at times, to defend their line for so long against players like Smith, Cronk and Slater is testament to the toughness Hasler has instilled in his charges.

    Where most grand finals tend to blow apart in the later stages of the game, the fact that the Bulldogs were not only able to keep the scoreboard respectable but also keep the Strom scoreless in the second half was an incredible feat.

    Both coaches can be seen demand huge respect from their players, and will most likely be part of many more finals matches. It is Bellamy though who is integral not just to the footballing side of his club, but the club itself.

    Whilst there will always be whispers of cashed up CEOs throwing big money at the man, it is hard to see Bellamy ever leaving the Storm.

    From the moment he walked his walked his charges onto AAMI park for the now famous press conference after the magnitude of salary cap penalties became clear, this has been the club that Craig built.

    Gary Freeman
    Gary Freeman

    Gary 'Wiz' Freeman is one of the great halfbacks in New Zealand rugby league history. Now an outspoken and popular media personality, he joined The Roar in 2012 as an expert rugby league columnist.

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    The Crowd Says (22)

    • October 1st 2012 @ 11:59am
      oikee said | October 1st 2012 @ 11:59am | ! Report

      The gatorade shower, is that a rugby league tradition now. I have seen it performed almost every year, not on Wayne Bennett thank goodness.
      Look, a couple, of days ago we had posts saying Dessy is this, Des is that, a all time great. Mate, we are to quick to judge, to put immortals up on a pedistal before there time(Joey anyone) and to rate coaches before they have even proved themselves. Not long ago i said their is only 1 master coach, that was Wayne Bennett, without a doubt he has proven himself.
      Australia, Origin, Broncos, Dragons, soon to be Knights, i have no question he will guide them to a final, Faith, destiny, call it what you like, but it happens, and he also guided the Kiwis to a world cup.

      Then in a very long second place comes Craig Bellamy. But Bellamy is so far in front of the rest it does not really matter.
      He disected Dessy’s game plan and left it in tatters. Come on, we even had people saying that this is the new way to play the game, forwards throwing the ball to their halves to do the hitups for them.
      Great work Craig Bellamy, you not only showed us how to beat this plan, you did it on the biggest stage and made des look like a 2 cent goose.
      You could see that all Bellamy wanted was a fast play the ball, the refs must have been asked by Bellamy to keep it fast. He knew that the big dog pack would try to slow things down, they have been wrestling all year and standing side by side in the marker all year.
      He played Dessy like a violin. All this came to light just last week, and Bellamy knew exactly what he was doing, Dessy is still looking into the headlights, he never knew what hit him.
      Des has got one tactic, bring the biff, next year he will have to drag it back out of the cupboard.

      • October 1st 2012 @ 3:26pm
        JoeB said | October 1st 2012 @ 3:26pm | ! Report

        Oikee are you serious ?? Wayne Bennett the only master coach in the competition !! When one looks at the lists Bennett has had to coach it’s hardly a surprise he has the record he does . At the end of the day how many premierships have not been won by the team with the best list over the last 20 years ?
        People overstate the coach rather than understanding that great players turn ok players into better players . Johns , Lockyer , Smith can all be credited with that .
        How is it that Steve Stone coached a weaker list to a higher position on the ladder if Bennett is so much better coach than anyone else. Bennett is a great man manager and obviously very caring , but he is not that different to other coaches.

        • October 1st 2012 @ 3:45pm
          Bee Bee said | October 1st 2012 @ 3:45pm | ! Report

          This is an interesting point JoeB and I have often wondered just how crucial a coach is. The dollars they get paid would indicate they are at least as important as a club’s top players. But then, they are not under the cap so difficult to measure. For me, Bellamy clearly is a great coach because he takes players from the scrap heap and recycles them into great players consistently.

          But good coaches rarely coach rubbish teams. Bellamy does not have the best list but he clearly has three of the best players in League in three of the most crucial positions. Souths, Manly, Wests (great lists but not in GF for many reasons.) Coaching is a strange thing. Team goes bad (sack the coach.) Team wins (players did it, coach just lucky to have good players.)

          Bennett is amazing just for the fact he has lasted so long in an era where your teams losses rest with the coach and wins rest with the players.

          • October 1st 2012 @ 3:56pm
            JoeB said | October 1st 2012 @ 3:56pm | ! Report

            BeeBee i agree that Bennett’s longevity is to be applauded as is Bellamys ability to restore forgotten players . Slater and Smith are possibly 2 of the best players ever in their respective positions . Do not underestimate the impact that has on the players around them .

            • October 1st 2012 @ 4:19pm
              Bee Bee said | October 1st 2012 @ 4:19pm | ! Report

              Bellamy has already said that he will never coach against Cam Smith again which gives a lot away on his own opinion regarding this issue.

              Big hypothetical here. Warriors have choice of Bellamy or Smith? Who do they take? For me they would take Bellamy. Purely for the fact that he clearly has a track record of turning potential talent into real talent. Thats what they need.

              For other teams Smith would be more valued. Cowboys would be favourites next year with Smith in the team. Many teams would suddenly find themselves favourites with Cam Smith in their line up.

    • October 1st 2012 @ 1:04pm
      Bee Bee said | October 1st 2012 @ 1:04pm | ! Report

      Agree Oikee. Bennett is still the master. But time is not on his side. He is well into his sixties now. I too fully respect the man and hope he guides the Knights to the GF next year. But is he in this gig heart and soul. Or does he long to be back at his spiritual home (Lang Park) Bring on 2013. Can’t wait to find out.

    • Roar Rookie

      October 1st 2012 @ 2:25pm
      Warriors_Paradise32 said | October 1st 2012 @ 2:25pm | ! Report

      I think the Warriors had him in their discussions earlier in August I believe?
      Interesting to see where Craig goes, though he looks like a man that would die for his
      players.
      I think he is a Melbourne Storm coach till the end of his career.

    • October 1st 2012 @ 2:28pm
      Hector said | October 1st 2012 @ 2:28pm | ! Report

      I think the Roosters will take him in 2014 when the big 3 are nearly done in Melb…

      BTW Barba was called back for taking a 20 metre tap after the ball wemnt dead but his players were offside so he too k it again – isnt it a penalty against or a scrum???

    • October 1st 2012 @ 2:39pm
      Raugeee said | October 1st 2012 @ 2:39pm | ! Report

      I see people are starting to talk about 2013. Where are QLD going to play Barba? Surley he’d be a great winger, maybe of the bench in a utility role? he has to be there. Even yesterday when nothing was going his way he nearly managed to steal the game out of the fire.

      • Roar Rookie

        October 1st 2012 @ 2:44pm
        Warriors_Paradise32 said | October 1st 2012 @ 2:44pm | ! Report

        Raugee, why Barba at wing? or even utility for that matter?
        It was from fullback where he
        quote;
        nearly managed ti steal the game out of the fire.

        Remember??

    • October 1st 2012 @ 2:44pm
      Bee Bee said | October 1st 2012 @ 2:44pm | ! Report

      Inglis at FB and Slater and Barba on the wing. NSW may not want to kick the ball at all. Running on 5th and last never seemed so sensible.

      • Roar Rookie

        October 1st 2012 @ 2:47pm
        Warriors_Paradise32 said | October 1st 2012 @ 2:47pm | ! Report

        Disagree.

        • October 1st 2012 @ 3:09pm
          Bee Bee said | October 1st 2012 @ 3:09pm | ! Report

          No prob. Throw any of them at FB. Why not rotate them on the field to keep NSW guessing. Or give them an origin each at FB. Its a great problem to have. Can’t remember a selection dilemna quite like it. 3 of the most exciting players not just in a state or nation but an entire code vying for one position. Long time until 2013 though. Maybe someone else pops up by then.

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