Bellamy and Storm prove rorting not the secret to success
Craig Bellamy wears a Gatorade shower following the NRL Grand Final between the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and Melbourne Storm at ANZ Stadium in Sydney on Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012.(AAP Image/Ben Zonner)
The Melbourne Storm will never escape their past as major salary cap rorters. In fact, as a result of the breaches, part of its history – the magnificent era of three minor premierships and two premierships – officially no longer exists.
In April 2010 when David Gallop first revealed the salary cap breaches and announced the punishment, he concluded with, “The team’s results speak for themselves”.
All they could do was try to prove that the breaches and the deception engineered by Brian Waldron were not necessary for success.
Last year’s minor premiership was a significant step, but the premiership victory on Sunday was the final proof.
After the grand final, as the Storm players came together to celebrate, something stood out. It was a group of four that remained tightly bound for an extended period.
Bryan Norrie – celebrating his rise from the rubbish heap to premiership glory – went to join but then realised the sanctity of the gathering, and moved on. Young Jesse Bromwich arrived to press his large frame against the group before also breaking away.
The group contained, of course, Cameron Smith, Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk, and Ryan Hoffman: the only players to have participated in all of the club’s five grand finals under Bellamy. Despite their claims they won the ’07 and ’09 titles, this one was clearly special.
Gallop also made a significant error during his 2010 announcement – one that is still being made by some journalists and league supporters today.
He declared that the breaches had allowed the team “to attract and retain some of the biggest names in rugby league”. Actually, it was rejection from other clubs that attracted most players to the Storm. No spending, covert or otherwise, went towards buying superstars. The failure of the NRL to recognise the quality of the Storm’s player development still irks the club.
Waldron organised the breaches in order to retain players who were made champions under Bellamy’s tutelage. He feared they would be purchased by poaching clubs using illicit means of their own.
Whenever Craig Bellamy is asked about Brian Waldron, he says, “I’d rather not mention his name here.” He has aged significantly over the past two and a half years, as he has tried to restore his great legacy.
Some have argued that he is still benefitting from the retention of three of the game’s superstars in Smith, Slater and Cronk, who again showed their supreme class when it counted on Sunday. There could be some truth to that, although they have claimed they would never have left the club.
I can’t recall any opposition coaches or players claiming that the salary cap breaches were responsible for the Storm’s era of dominance.
All other clubs praise the work ethic of Bellamy and his players and, more importantly, they continue to poach from Melbourne – the best indication of its standing.
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