Take a bow Craig Bellamy, Cameron Smith and your Storm troopers

David Lord Columnist

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    It was a privilege to watch the Craig Bellamy-coached, Cameron Smith-led Melbourne Storm march into their eighth NRL decider with a 30-point whitewashing of the Brisbane Broncos last night.

    That this professionally performing club drew a full house at AAMI Park in Melbourne, right in the heartland of the AFL, proves there are many like me who delight in watching a masterclass performance.

    It was such a relief from watching the Australian batting order constantly collapse or the rubbish rugby from the Waratahs and Wallabies, while watching paint dry and grass grow has been more invigorating than watching the Socceroos.

    The same could be said for watching the Sydney Swans drop out of the AFL finals series without so much as a whimper or watching Nick Kyrgios deny Australia a Davis Cup final berth by doing his lolly for the countless time.

    The only two Australians to recently turn in such professional performances have been golfer Marc Leishman and the Matildas.

    Leishman won the BWM Championship in the penultimate FedExCup finals series by five shots with rounds of 62, 64, 68, 67 to break Tiger Woods’ course record with 23 under.

    The Matildas have twice beaten Brazil, with super striker Sam Kerr’s backward somersaults among the many highlights. The Aussie girls were so dominant that the Brazilians refused to shake hands.

    But the story of the year is the Melbourne Storm, and the man who has honed them into such a sensational side – Craig Bellamy.

    The 57-year-old has been head coach since 2003, taking charge of 392 games for 265 wins at a 67.6 per cent success rate.

    And in the process he’s mentored Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk, and Billy Slater to be right up there as the best rugby league players on the planet.

    Smith is the perfect captain, he’s already made the most State of Origin appearances with 50 and the most NRL games with 357.

    He’s worn the green and gold 50 times, chasing Darren Lockyer’s record 59 with the World Cup coming up shortly.

    And last night he became the first NRL player to kick 1000 goals.

    For the record, Smith has landed 1002, Andrew Johns 917, Hazem El Masri 891 and Johnathan Thurston 846.

    With his first points in the grand final, Smith (2175) will become the second-highest NRL points-scorer of all time, taking over from Johns (2176), and setting out after El Masri’s 2478.

    Simply put, he’s just one helluva footballer.

    Last night was the 33-year-old Cronk’s last appearance at AAMI Park as he’s moving to Sydney to be with his fiancee Tara Rushton, who is a Fox Sports host.

    Thanks to Bellamy’s guidance, Cronk’s played 322 games for the Storm, 22 Origins, and 33 for the Kangaroos, but his footballing future is unknown.

    He has been making a lot of guest appearances on Fox, and with his proven knowledge of the game that made him famous, don’t be surprised if he hangs up his boots after the decider.

    Last night Slater was in full cry with two tries in his 298th game for the Storm, to go with his 29 Origins, and 25 for the Kangaroos.

    His future is also unknown, but if he keeps playing at 35, there’s no doubt he’ll remain a Stormer.

    But in spite of their standing in the rugby league world, last night the three Amigos were upstaged by a blockbusting display from Felise Kaufusi.

    All that proved is that Craig Bellamy keeps producing damn good footballers, and why the Melbourne Storm is always a damn good side.

    David Lord
    David Lord

    David Lord was deeply involved in two of the biggest sporting stories - World Series Cricket in 1977 and professional rugby in 1983. After managing Jeff Thomson and Viv Richards during WSC, in 1983 David signed 208 of the best rugby players from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and France to play an international pro circuit. The concept didn’t get off the ground, but it did force the IRB to get cracking and bring in the World Rugby Cup, now one of the world’s great sporting spectacles

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