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Opinion

The Craig Bellamy domino effect

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Roar Guru
30th September, 2020
46

Kevin Walters has accepted the poisoned chalice as Broncos coach for next season, being chosen ahead of main rival Paul Green.

It has also been reported he only beat Green after a split board decision when it was revealed that Craig Bellamy would also join the Broncos in the 2022 season in the role of coaching director, whatever that is.

Bellamy has reportedly been offered a ten-year contract that would be too good to refuse.

Craig Bellamy is one of the best and most successful coaches of the modern era and has coached Melbourne for 18 of their 23 years in the NRL. His influence can’t be denied, and his proposed move to the Broncos will have some widespread repercussions.

Here are some of the dominos to fall.

Kevin Walters to coach the Broncos
The most obvious of these is on Kevin Walters, who without Bellamy’s intended arrival may not have got the job. The Broncos are currently a basket case and will take some considerable resuscitation to get them back towards the top of the table where the Brisbane public, media and old boy network believe they belong – in fact they demand nothing less.

This would be a big task for any coach, let alone a coach like Walters with no NRL experience. Without the promise of Bellamy’s involvement, we probably don’t see Walters coaching the Broncos anytime soon.

Kevin Walters

Kevin Walters (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Queensland State of Origin coach
Walters took over from Mal Meninga as Queensland coach in 2016, winning his first two series and losing the next two in 2018 and 2019. Prior to that Meninga coached the Maroons from 2006 to 2015. During this time it has been the preference to have a full-time Queensland Origin coach rather than a coach involved with an NRL team.

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With Walters off to the Broncos, he’s immediately stood down as Queensland coach, meaning someone needs to pick up the threads. Likely contenders are Wayne Bennett and Mal Meninga, and it has been reported that Meninga, despite being the current Australian coach, has been given special dispensation to run the Queensland side this year.

It has also been reported that Wayne Bennett will in fact get the role while still looking after Souths’ run into the finals. Either way, there will likely be some negative implications for the Queensland Origin preparation.

A new Australian coach
In recent years it has been the ARL’s preference to have a national coach who is neither aligned with a club side nor a Queensland or New South Wales. If Meninga were appointed Queensland coach, there would be a need for a new national coach. Nobody knows just who that might be at this stage, but you could rule out the batch of NRL coaches discarded this year. Perhaps Geoff Toovey?

The rise of the Broncos from the 2020 ashes
The arrival of Walters doesn’t promise much on its own but the addition of Bellamy in 2022 changes the ball game entirely. Bellamy brings credibility, a track record of success, the ability to effectively recruit players and the knack of getting the best out of his squad – all things currently missing at the Broncos and probably not going to be delivered by Walters alone.

From a coaching perspective, two heads are better than one, particularly when one of them belongs to Craig Bellamy. Bellamy will attract players looking for success, just as he has attracted players to the Storm, and what chance Bellamy’s move will result in a few high-profile players wanting to shift from bleak city to sunny Brisbane for ‘personal reasons’ over the next couple of years?

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The demise of the Storm
If we accept that Bellamy’s move north will lead to a Broncos revival, for the reasons given above it follows it will also probably lead to some negatives at the Storm. Bellamy has been linked to their success since John Howard was Prime Minister and Phil Gould was New South Wales Origin coach, and it’s hard to see how they could effectively replace him and maintain their unparalleled momentum.

It’s not as if there is a line-up of quality coaches sitting around waiting for a run, and even if there was, Bellamy brings much more than just coaching. We could have a situation where the Storm become also-rans rather than perennial participants in the finals.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out, but if the reports are true and Craig Bellamy is off to the Broncos after next season, be prepared for the consequences.