After masterminding yet another bruising defeat against the Roosters the question needs to be asked as to where Craig Bellamy lies on the coaching pantheon in Australian history.
His 2021 has started just like every other season, with consistent performances, attacking prowess and a solid defensive line. What is the difference between 2021, as compared to other seasons?
The fact he doesn’t have his famed “Big 3” is a huge factor in this debate. In 2017, he produced arguably his best side ever, steamrolling to a minor premiership, a premiership, and having his captain take out the Dally M, all in one year. At that time, he had 3 of the greatest players ever at his disposal in Billy Slater, Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk. 2018 rolls on, they lose Cronk to the Roosters, and the Storm make the grand final YET again.
2019 rolls on, Slater retires, it’s one amigo left, they push all the way to a minor premiership and a preliminary final, in which they come up short against his former halfbacks Roosters. 2020 rolls on, Cam’s swansong year, they adapt to the new rules, commonly not in their favour, and win a premiership.
2021? He loses arguably the greatest player to play the game, and they look as good as ever. Currently, in first position, their attack is IMMENSE, with the highest tally of FOR points in a 16 round game span, along with 10 wins – winning by more than 40 points!
Unreal stats right? The common denominator is that man at the helm, Craig Bellamy.
They lose stars every year, that is nothing new to them, but with him there, there is ALWAYS a shot! Now some coaches cannot be replicated, some before my time, and some during my time. I know of the feats of Harry Hopman, the likes of Ric Charlesworth, Tony Roche, Mick Malthouse, Kevin Sheedy and even coaches in his own sport such as Jack Gibson and the ever-green, Wayne Bennett. All these names are coveted in Australian sports, and deservedly so.
The one knock I can picture people having against Bellamy, in his failed tenure as NSW coach, from 2008-2010. Not a great record at all, but as well documented, he’s probably not a coach you want to come in for a 6 week tenure alone, and enforce his craft upon you. He needs to settle his system and pitch his craft, for players to buy in, hence he suits the rigors of a week-to-week NRL coach.
Does that NSW record deter him from the likes of those coaches mentioned before? I don’t think it should. He has produced arguably the best sporting franchise in Australia, with renowned success and consistency, all under his tenure. He turns very average players into formidable players, he brings out the best in you and his record speaks for itself.
488 games coached at Melbourne, 340 wins, with a winning percentage of 70. 3 premierships (5 including those that were stripped), 4 minor premierships (7 including those that were stripped) and 2 World Club challenges (none played yet for the 2020 premiership).
While those stats are considerably impressive, I think it is the system and culture he has created in Melbourne which stands out. People tend to buy in when they relocate to Melbourne and players just seem to thrive under him. Not only is his success measured as greatness, but the way his team perform FOR him and UNDER him, maybe second to none.
What his side is doing in 2021 after losing Cameron Smith and historically being a team to slow down the ruck, albeit, with the new faster rules, they just adapt and conquer, adapt and conquer, and continue to roll on and perform at a high level. That all leads paths to one man, Craig Bellamy.
With a potential for a minor premiership and Premiership this year in 2021, Bellyache can just about lock in his spot at the top of all-time coaches.
Where does he stand for you, Roarers?