Looking back at the past decade there have been some great coaches going through peaks and troughs.
Wayne Bennett is always in the conversion with this topic, winning the minor premiership in 2009 and then the premiership in 2011, but he’s had a drought ever since. Has he lost his aura of greatness? I think so.
Craig Bellamy has been a stalwart at Melbourne since 2003 when he joined them from the Broncos. Since he joined, Melbourne has featured in every finals series except for the fateful year they had their points reduced to zero for salary cap rorting, and they have won the premiership twice in the last decade. That is an incredible record.
Most coaches who play understudy to Bellamy seem to go on to become well-respected head coaches at other clubs, and players who are unwanted by other clubs regularly become stars under his tutelage. But is he the best coach of the last decade?
In 2013 Trent Robinson took the helm at the Sydney Roosters and led them to a premiership in his first year as a head coach. He’s only the second coach in NRL history to be named the competition’s best coach in their first season.
In the last decade the Roosters have won three premierships under his tutelage and featured in every finals series except for 2016, when they finished second last. Another incredible coaching record, but is he better than Craig Bellamy?
He is, and not because he has one more premiership than Bellamy in the last decade. It’s because of the sheer team management, recruitment and salary cap management Robinson has continued to pull off.
When you look at Bellamy’s record, you also have to take into account he has had Cameron Smith there as his captain since day dot. Now, Cameron Smith may be a product of Bellamy, and that should be considered, but I think Smith himself has a lot to do with it too.
On the other hand Robinson has recruited very well, combining experience with the perfect blooding of his juniors at the right times to manage his roster year on year. They have continuously produced high-quality juniors, like Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Victor Radley, Latrell Mitchell, Joseph Manu, Jake Friend and of course Boyd Cordner.
The recruitment of Josh and Brett Morris turned out to be a stroke of genius, though how much of this is attributable to Robinson is unknown. The only player the Roosters have had close to the aura of Smith’s during Robinson’s time is James Tedesco, arriving at the Roosters in 2018 to win two premierships back to back.
I noticed this year and last that Robinson continuously appears to have the utmost care for his players, regularly resting the likes of Sio Siua Taukeiaho and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (much to the dismay of my Supercoach team) and rotating his forwards to keep them fresh. He has a motto that no matter who of his top 30 players he decides to play on the day, that they should all be capable of getting the job done.
With Robinson at the helm the Roosters have become my second team, playing a very entertaining and tough brand of football, fast-paced with the team consistently performing well. The Roosters have a strong chance of winning the premiership for the third time in a row, and I will be watching cheering them on.
Both Robinson and Bellamy have a winning percentage of close to 70 per cent, and as far as I am concerned, both have stood head and shoulders above all other coaches for the last decade.
Who do you think is better and why?