So is this farewell, Craig?

Andrew Sutherland Roar Guru

By Andrew Sutherland, Andrew Sutherland is a Roar Guru

 , ,

30 Have your say

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

    Related coverage

    With less than a minute to go in the Grand Final, the Melbourne Storm were 10 points up. With the ball deep in their half, the Premiership was theirs and the supporters were celebrating.

    But Craig Bellamy refused to believe it just yet: “Craig Bellamy can’t relax. Refuses to relax…refuses!”, was the amusing observation made by Phil Gould.

    And now the club and its supporters can’t relax. St George Illawarra have launched a voracious assault on the southern capital in an attempt to lure the great man north.

    Ever since Bellamy said he was a 50-50 chance of leaving his beloved Storm players, the club has realised the odds are stacked against them.

    Reports have stated that they hope his love for the place and the bond forged by the salary cap drama will outweigh the money offered by the Dragons.

    Money, however, shouldn’t be an issue. The News Ltd club should be able to match the offer – and the length of tenure, as confirmed by CEO Ron Gauci: “He has the role for as long as he wants as long as I’m in the chair.”

    The suggestion that he may want to move closer to his family would appear a valid one and apparently was a consideration during negotiations for his previous contract.

    But that can now be ignored, as the major factor at least, because he admitted to being interested in an earlier offer from the Warriors who are situated even further from his original home.

    Although undisputedly one of the great coaches, he was also the coach of a side that rorted the salary cap, perfected the unpopular wrestle in tackles, and has been the nemesis of Sydney clubs for a long period.

    Perhaps he is seeking acceptance and forgiveness in the heartland of the competition.

    But the most likely reason for his departure, it seems, would be to seek a new challenge – like his former mentor Wayne Bennett – at the Dragons.

    Immediately after the Grand Final it was impossible not to believe he would be at the Storm until the end of his coaching life.

    The unadulterated hugs he gave to his second sons Billy Slater and Cameron Smith, and the players whose careers he had resurrected, Jaiman Lowe and Bryan Norrie, were a clear illustration of his feelings towards his men and the sense of redemption after the devastating salary cap affair.

    He often said he couldn’t stomach coaching against his stars in Origin so it’s hard to imagine him doing the same throughout an NRL season.

    Surely, he wouldn’t want to the see the club he built slowly fall away in his absence like the Broncos after Bennett’s departure.

    The club’s three superstars have decided to call Melbourne home but without Bellamy’s unique ability to instil discipline while also conveying affection, to inspire and retain young talent, and to transform rejects into top rung contributors, the team’s fortunes will surely suffer.

    For Storm supporters, it’s difficult to admit that his Grand Final hugs may have been farewell ones.

    If you could choose from any and every NRL player in the competition, who would you pick in your rugby league dream team? Let us know with our team picker right here, and be sure to share it with all your league-loving mates.

    Have Your Say

    If not logged in, please enter your name and email before submitting your comment. Please review our comments policy before posting on the Roar.

    Oldest | Newest | Most Recent

    The Crowd Says (30)

    • January 6th 2013 @ 8:36am
      Pot Stirrer said | January 6th 2013 @ 8:36am | ! Report

      I think he needs to go to another club to prove to himself that hes the coach hes credtited with being. The truth is hes had a golden ride at the Storm and any coach would have had a lot of succes with the players they have had. Melb has always been in finals contention since thier inception.

      • January 6th 2013 @ 10:44am
        Ken said | January 6th 2013 @ 10:44am | ! Report

        I agree that for all the accolades, Bellamy’s legacy is a bit iffy if he doesn’t reproduce success elsewhere. Slater, Smith, Cronk, Inglis…. Brian Smith could win a comp with a core like that! At origin level, even with the benefit of being the regular coach of many of the stars, he came up empty handed. Not to mention the boosted sides he’s had through most of his career.

        For all that though he doesn’t seem like the type to care. We might all sit here saying ‘ yeah he’s good but blah, blah, blah’ however I doubt changing our minds matters to him. Besides, while I’m a Dragons supporter and would like a coach of his (apparent) calibre around I think he belongs in Melbourne these days.

        He’s a bit of a nomad though, NSW boy who played in the ACT, learned coaching in QLD and made his name in VIC. Who says this isn’t a national sport?

        • Roar Guru

          January 6th 2013 @ 1:33pm
 said | January 6th 2013 @ 1:33pm | ! Report

          Pot, Ken
          Not one of the rep players at the Storm have been purchased. They were all no names when they arrived in Melb and bellamy made them champions. You are kidding right?

          • January 6th 2013 @ 2:56pm
            Pot Stirrer said | January 6th 2013 @ 2:56pm | ! Report

            Scott, Sure they were all developed but as the saying goes you cant polish a Turd. Im not saying he cant coach, but he has had some pretty good juniors come through. Are you suggesting Cronk Slater and Smith wouldnt be the players they are today if it wasnt for Bellamy?

            • Roar Guru

              January 6th 2013 @ 8:48pm
     said | January 6th 2013 @ 8:48pm | ! Report

              Only 2 juniors Inglis and Folau were ever certain to be super stars when they arrived in Melb. Everyone else worked hard under Bellamys guidance and that includes the big 3.
              Class players leave him and are not as good and journey men come to him and improve. Jason Ryles is a good example of a guy who had bad hands and made a lot of mistakes. Many good coaches could not fix his problem but Bellamy did. The list goes on…….
              I probably rate Bennett in front of him at the moment but there is no doubt he will retire the best ever IMO.

              • Roar Guru

                January 6th 2013 @ 9:57pm
                Andrew Sutherland said | January 6th 2013 @ 9:57pm | ! Report

                Scott, I remember when Orford left without notice it appeared they had been lumbered with a run-of-the-mill utility by the name of Cooper Cronk!

                I felt for poor Ryles who missed the Grand Final due to injury. He was outstanding all season.

              • January 7th 2013 @ 8:43am
                Pot Stirrer said | January 7th 2013 @ 8:43am | ! Report

                Given Slater Cronk and Smioths work ethic to thier footy i think they would have become the players they are regardless. I Coached my son in footy for a lot of years and in that team i had 1 player who went on to play in an NRL GF and another who won the Super Rugby with QLD Reds both from the same u/15 side and i can tell you you could see the difference, not only ability but attitude and whilst i had no idea they would go as far as they did they were a class above and imo it would have been the same with the big three from the Storm. Especially Slater with his speed and courage. So whilst Bellamy nutured them through he wasnt actually coaching them in thier development. We will have to agree to disagree as i firmly believe any average player who gets to play in a champion team with three super stars is obviously going to appear better than they actually are. As it was with the side i coached who went through undefeated on the back of the 2 blokes i mentioned.

              • January 7th 2013 @ 11:46am
                Ken said | January 7th 2013 @ 11:46am | ! Report

                Sorry bit late on the reply.

                Just to be clear Scott, I believe Bellamy is one of the better coaches going around. However, you can’t deny the amount of raw young talent that he had at his disposal was more than any other coach. The salary cap stuff, though not necessarily his fault, also meant that he could surround that young talent with a higher class of player than he otherwise would have. The players all feed off each other too, personally I believe Cronk, now one of the best players in the game, would probably have been just a solid first grader if he didn’t develop with Smith feeding him and Slater running off his shoulder.

                As an analogy Bellamy is a bit like the rich kid that runs a successful business. He may well be that good, but he’s also had a lot of leg-ups that others didn’t have access to. Personally I don’t think he’ll be remembered as one of the great coaches unless he replicates that success elsewhere without those leg-ups.

              • January 7th 2013 @ 12:02pm
                Ken said | January 7th 2013 @ 12:02pm | ! Report

                I think there’s a bit of mythology about Bellamy’s magic transforming of nobodies. Jason Ryles for example, a guy who played for NSW and Australia for half a decade, was ‘fixed’ by Bellamy. Brett Finch is also named in this thread, who also played Origin before going to Melbourne.

                The Storm never bought rep players? Chase Stanley was an exciting young player who was playing for New Zealand when he was poached from the Dragons.

                Yes, all the big names were brought to the club young, but that had little to do with Bellamy. I can’t stomach the argument that this talent couldn’t have blossomed elsewhere. Surely no-one would suggest that if Aaron Payne had been at Melbourne and Cam Smith at the Cowboys, then Payne would now be considered the best player in the world?

        • Roar Rookie

          January 7th 2013 @ 9:28am
          Damn Straight said | January 7th 2013 @ 9:28am | ! Report

          Gee I don’t know about that Ken… I’m sure Brian Smith would find a way to f*ck that up.

    • January 6th 2013 @ 9:50am
      Ronald M said | January 6th 2013 @ 9:50am | ! Report

      I think he will stay in Melbourne. A lot of this is media hype during a quiet closed season. A bit of lazy journalism built on a bit of posturing from bellamy. There is always a chance of course but with everything else equal, who would you prefer to coach ?

      • January 6th 2013 @ 12:00pm
        Pot Stirrer said | January 6th 2013 @ 12:00pm | ! Report

        The Dragons. If he doesnt take the job it will be becuase either News LTD make him a offer he cant refuse or he wont want to risk his legacy. To Live in a city like Wollongong with all its lifestyle benefits compared to melb on similar money i know what id do but then he may be thinking life after footy. {TV deals/oppurtunites etc}

    • January 6th 2013 @ 12:32pm
      Crosscoder said | January 6th 2013 @ 12:32pm | ! Report

      Looking at the cattle grazing in rancho St George,Bellamy would not be looking at Wagyu quality on the hoof.
      The worst thing a coach can do ,is be a success at one club and a non entity at another( in term s of success).
      As Bennett has found in Newcastle.

    • Roar Guru

      January 6th 2013 @ 1:38pm said | January 6th 2013 @ 1:38pm | ! Report

      Dragons fans dont get too excited.
      This is a big backhander for your current coach.
      I think this is just a reason to increase Bellamys deal at Storm.
      The big 3 signed on with the understanding bellamy would be coach and whatever “overs” the Dragons offer will not be enough to cover his “lost” super money from NEWS.
      NEWS are trying to sell the Storm as we speak and they have no hope with no Bellamy.

    • January 6th 2013 @ 1:46pm
      Stormtrooper4 said | January 6th 2013 @ 1:46pm | ! Report

      How would Steve Price feel about this, if Bellamy doesn’t go to dragons next year (fingers crossed :P) then what happens to Price who now knows that the club have no confidence in him and clearly don’t think that he is the future of the dragons.

    • January 6th 2013 @ 2:38pm
      Roarsome said | January 6th 2013 @ 2:38pm | ! Report

      There’s a few comments on Bellamy’s success being diluted because of the players he’s worked with. Shouldn’t the reverse apply. Who was Inglis, Falou, Slater, Smith, Cronk etc etc before they were coached by Bellamy? It’s the head coaches job to recruit and select a team to work with and Craig has done a fantastic job at this. He has a history of developing great players, not buying talent, so I’m sure he’ll do ok wherever he goes. Coaches need at least 5 years at a club before their true worth is known. Look at Parra as an example. Much of the Salary Cap is taken by Hayne and Sandow. This effectively restricts the next coach from shaping the team he wants. Bennett has started to make inroads at Newcastle though again, once the larger contracts are in Bennett’s control, he won’t have the team he wants.

      Comment left via The Roar’s iPhone app. Download it now [].

      • January 6th 2013 @ 5:41pm
        Rabby said | January 6th 2013 @ 5:41pm | ! Report

        I have seen this argument about Bellamy’s success being simply because he has Cronk, Smith and Slater in the team but I don’t buy it.

        Firstly, Bellamy came to Melbourne when Slater/Cronk/Inglis/Smith were nobodies so it could be reasonably argued that it was Bellamy that turned these guys into Superstars rather than the other way round. Sure there was raw talent there to begin with but spotting that and developing it year in year out is pretty much the definition of a good coach.
        Then we have his reputation for taking players rejected by other clubs (e.g. Brett Finch, Jason Ryles) and giving them a new lease of life, perceived faults with a particular player suddenly seeming to evaporate. whilst the opposite is also true. Players with big reputations leaving the storm on big money tickets only to fail to deliver (Adam Blair anyone).
        It can be no coincidence that everyone seems to play better under Craig.
        But there can be no bigger testimony to a coaches reputation than to take a post salary cap fiasco decimated squad with low self esteem and to rebuild that squad with youngsters and journey men to win the minor prem in just one year and the premiership in two.

        Bellamy is a great coach whichever way you look at it.

        • January 7th 2013 @ 3:06pm
          Terry Kidd said | January 7th 2013 @ 3:06pm | ! Report

          Thanks Rabby you hit the nail on the head. Bellamy has already achieved after the salary cap storm and has earned redemption. This could be the only reason he may now depart … he has achieved the ultimate and might need a new challenge to refresh his coaching desire.

          I think it is a long shot still, but it would not surprise me to see him move to the Dragons simply because it would be a new challenge closer to home on his final contract.

          • Roar Rookie

            January 13th 2013 @ 3:19pm
            Hez said | January 13th 2013 @ 3:19pm | ! Report

            Concur with the closer to home theory, especially if he wants to retire so young, can only be to play with the grand kids and soak up the fruits of his spoils.

      • Roar Guru

        January 6th 2013 @ 8:50pm said | January 6th 2013 @ 8:50pm | ! Report

        Peter OSullivan (now at Roosters) recruited most of Bellamys top players.

        • January 6th 2013 @ 10:41pm
          Anakin said | January 6th 2013 @ 10:41pm | ! Report

          That he may have done, and like Cyril connell at the Broncos, and Cleal as well, these top notch recruitment guys are gold – but at the end of the day the coach has to be convinced the player fits the mould the coach wants them to, and then has to get them there. How many players have we seen tipped to be the next big thing when they make their NRL debut, or after 1 good season, only to be thrown onto the “potential” pile soon thereafter. One would be a fool to discount Bellamys influence at the storm, and on the players under him. Dont have to believe me – ask the players!!!

    , ,