Infotainment Factory: Why Craig Bellamy is about to get rorted

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Sunday, 11 August 2019

Why Craig Bellamy is about to get rorted


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As Phil Gould puts it, sometimes things are just too obvious.

And as a result, a case of grand theft is in the works.

The robbery victim: Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy, whose team is on track to record the fewest regular-season losses in 24 years.

Des Hasler is shaping as a consensus pick as Dally M Coach of the Year. He's the sentimental favourite, having returned to Manly and lifted them from roadkill to finalists.

"From here to Gulargambone," Gould said on his Six Tackles with Gus podcast, when asked if Hasler would win the award.

"Mind you, his biggest opponent has to be Craig Bellamy.

"What an extraordinary year they've had. Sometimes, the best don't get it (the award).

"It's too obvious, Craig Bellamy. They're going to win the minor premiership by six or eight points, his team has been phenomenal.

"They've been beaten three times this year: twice by a point and once by two points. And he's not going to be Coach of the Year!

"He's lost Billy Slater, he's lost Cooper Cronk (last season). He's lost everyone. He's got this old bloke at 74 years of age (Cameron Smith) still running around at dummy-half. And they're going to win the minor premiership from here to Gulargambone.

"But yeah, let's give it to Dessie! Let's give it to Dessie!

"Craig Bellamy ... sometimes they just overlook the obvious, don't they?"

Des Hasler

Gould's comments came before Sunday's masterclass win over South Sydney, who played well enough in a 26-16 loss that coach Wayne Bennett claimed the Rabbitohs' premiership credentials remained intact.

Yet Melbourne controlled the game. They owned the ruck. Smith and Cameron Munster showed their class and around them, Bellamy's trademarks were everywhere.

That's despite fielding a debutant fullback, Nicho Hynes, with Jahrome Hughes out through back spasms. The previous weekend, Origin forward Christian Welch went down with a season-ending ACL rupture.

"I thought it was one of the better wins of the year because of the circumstances," Bellamy, a four-time Dally M Coach of the Year, said.

"The closeness of the game at times, that wasn't because of a lack of effort. It was effort all the time. That was one of our best effort performances of the year."

NRL Press Conference: Craig Bellamy - Round 21

The Storm's record this season, as Gould pointed out, is absurd. In a league that is designed for see-sawing results where any team can win on any given day, Melbourne have lost three games from 20 by a combined margin of four points.

The Roosters beat them in golden point in round six, through a Latrell Mitchell field goal. The Storm pipped the Warriors by a late field goal the next weekend, then lost by two points to the Sharks.

Bellamy was furious. His team was 6-2, cruising in anyone else's language, yet the great coach threatened to burn his team down - accusing them of lacking character.

"That's one thing I think we've been pretty strong at over the past couple of years, but after the last couple of weeks I'm starting to doubt if this group has got that," Bellamy said. "And we better find that, or I'll be finding some new players.

"There'll be a couple tapped on the shoulder saying you need to improve. I don't want to sit here and bulls--t to you. At the moment we aren't playing games out like Storm teams play games out."

They have since. They beat Parramatta 64-10 the following week.

If you're using the Hasler logic, Eels coach Brad Arthur should be a hot contender for Coach of the Year. He's lifted his side from the wooden spoon to the finals. Yet his 12-8 team is, by last direct measure, 54 points inferior to Bellamy's Storm.

Melbourne's Parramatta rout launched a nine-game winning streak that was only halted by Hasler's Manly, an 11-10 golden point thriller in round 19 at AAMI Park. It was a wonderful performance from the Sea Eagles, with captain Daly Cherry-Evans kicking the winning field goal.

Yet after smashing the Knights, Manly fell 24-16 to a poor Warriors team on Friday, when a win could have put them in the top four. They didn't aim up in a key game. They now sit an underwhelming 12-8, 10 points behind the Storm

By stark contrast, Melbourne thumped Brisbane 40-4, then rolled through their clinical defeat of South Sydney to cement themselves as the NRL's best side.

Gould has wondered if the Storm have another gear to call on for the finals, knowing that the Roosters certainly do after thumping Melbourne in last year's grand final. Bellamy believes his side can still improve; or die trying, and no one tries like Melbourne.

"I think we still have got another gear in a couple of areas but, having said that, sometimes you find another gear in another area and you lose it in another area again," he said.

"The thing that we are big on at the moment is trying to be consistent with our effort. Hopefully, in our way of thinking, that makes up for a little bit of lack of execution at times."

The Storm are now six points clear of the Roosters in the minor premiership race and with Raiders (H), Titans (H), Manly (A), Cowboys (H) as their four remaining games, they will finish first.

If Melbourne win every game, they will earn their best regular-season record under Bellamy since 2007. That three-loss side won the grand final with Smith, Slater, Cronk and Greg Inglis (over Hasler's Manly), only to be stripped of the title in the salary cap scandal.

A three-loss season this year would better the four-loss 2017 season, when Bellamy won Coach of the Year before leading his team to another grand final win. It would be the best regular-season record since 1995, when star-studded Manly and Canberra sides each recorded just two losses; in a 22-game competition compared to the current 24 matches.

Bellamy, who has won four grand finals for two recognised premierships, demands that his teams strive for perfection. It's astonishing how close they have come this season. The have the NRL's best defence by 52 points, the best attack by 10 points and the best differential by 85 points. They've only lost one away game.

The Storm already have more wins this season than last year. They lost a potential Immortal in Slater and have struggled to settle on a replacement fullback due to injuries, yet they have somehow improved as a team.

They are in the second year post-Cronk and Brodie Croft is only just settling into his role as the first-choice halfback. Munster is a superstar and so is Smith, still, but he's 36 years-old with 400 games under his belt.

This level of excellence should really not be possible. Though Melbourne has gradually evolved, of course.

Where once the 'Big Three/Four' reigned supreme in the Storm's salary cap and battlers filled the front-row, New Zealand Test props Jesse Bromwich and Nelson Asofa-Solomona are now belting out hard yards. Kenny Bromwich, Felise Kaufusi and Dale Finucane make it an all Test/Origin pack.

Then there's pure speed on the wings through Suliasi Vunivalu and Josh Addo-Carr, plus an Origin veteran in the centres in Will Chambers. It is by no means a team thin on talent.

Yet Bellamy's ability to seamlessly plough through roster upheaval has been astounding. At the start of this season, Hynes was his fourth-choice fullback; yet he debuted in a high-stakes game on Sunday and played like a veteran.

Bellamy, more than any other coach of this era, has made his players better. His exploits this year have been extraordinary, even by his lofty standards.

The Storm will win the minor premiership if they beat Canberra on Saturday and the Roosters are upset by the Warriors. Melbourne could become the first team to secure the JJ Giltinan Shield with three rounds to play since Brisbane in 2000.

In the big picture, they are pushing for a fourth-straight grand final, despite losing all-time greats Cronk and Slater in consecutive years.

While the Dally M judges love rewarding a big resurgence more often than continued excellence (see below), it would be a rort if any coach other than Bellamy took out this year's award.

DALLY M COACH OF THE YEAR AWARDS, THIS DECADE

2010: Brian Smith

Took Sydney Roosters from the wooden spoon in 2009 to sixth, reaching the grand final; where his side lost to the Dragons, who Wayne Bennett led to a second consecutive minor premiership.

2011: Craig Bellamy

Won the minor premiership after playing 2010 for no points due to the salary cap scandal; which ravaged his side for the following season.

2012: Des Hasler

Having won the 2011 premiership with Manly, defected to the Bulldogs and took them from ninth in 2011 to the minor premiership and a grand final; losing to Bellamy's Storm.

2013: Trent Robinson

Won the minor premiership and the grand final with the Roosters in his first season as an NRL head coach, after they finished 13th in 2012.

2014: Ivan Cleary

Lifted the Panthers from 10th in 2013 to fourth. They finished level on points with the Rabbitohs, who ultimately won their first premiership in 43 years under Michael Maguire.

2015: Wayne Bennett

Returned to Brisbane and elevated the Broncos from eighth in 2014 to second, reaching the grand final. They were beaten by Paul Green's Cowboys, who he lifted from ninth in 2014 to the same 2015 points tally as Brisbane, in just his second season as a head coach.

2016: Ricky Stuart

Took the Canberra club, where he won three premierships as a players, from 10th in 2015 to second.

2017: Craig Bellamy

Led Melbourne to back-to-back minor premierships, losing just four games, and went on to win the grand final.

2018: Anthony Seibold

Lifted South Sydney from 12th to third in his first season as an NRL head coach. Bellamy came within eight differential points of claiming a minor premiership hat-trick, before his side lost to Robinson's first-placed Roosters in the grand final.

As Phil Gould puts it, sometimes things are just too obvious.

And as a result, a case of grand theft is in the works.

The robbery victim: Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy, whose team is on track to record the fewest regular-season losses in 24 years.

Des Hasler is shaping as a consensus pick as Dally M Coach of the Year. He's the sentimental favourite, having returned to Manly and lifted them from roadkill to finalists.

"From here to Gulargambone," Gould said on his Six Tackles with Gus podcast, when asked if Hasler would win the award.

"Mind you, his biggest opponent has to be Craig Bellamy.

"What an extraordinary year they've had. Sometimes, the best don't get it (the award).

"It's too obvious, Craig Bellamy. They're going to win the minor premiership by six or eight points, his team has been phenomenal.

"They've been beaten three times this year: twice by a point and once by two points. And he's not going to be Coach of the Year!

"He's lost Billy Slater, he's lost Cooper Cronk (last season). He's lost everyone. He's got this old bloke at 74 years of age (Cameron Smith) still running around at dummy-half. And they're going to win the minor premiership from here to Gulargambone.

"But yeah, let's give it to Dessie! Let's give it to Dessie!

"Craig Bellamy ... sometimes they just overlook the obvious, don't they?"

Des Hasler

Gould's comments came before Sunday's masterclass win over South Sydney, who played well enough in a 26-16 loss that coach Wayne Bennett claimed the Rabbitohs' premiership credentials remained intact.

Yet Melbourne controlled the game. They owned the ruck. Smith and Cameron Munster showed their class and around them, Bellamy's trademarks were everywhere.

That's despite fielding a debutant fullback, Nicho Hynes, with Jahrome Hughes out through back spasms. The previous weekend, Origin forward Christian Welch went down with a season-ending ACL rupture.

"I thought it was one of the better wins of the year because of the circumstances," Bellamy, a four-time Dally M Coach of the Year, said.

"The closeness of the game at times, that wasn't because of a lack of effort. It was effort all the time. That was one of our best effort performances of the year."

NRL Press Conference: Craig Bellamy - Round 21

The Storm's record this season, as Gould pointed out, is absurd. In a league that is designed for see-sawing results where any team can win on any given day, Melbourne have lost three games from 20 by a combined margin of four points.

The Roosters beat them in golden point in round six, through a Latrell Mitchell field goal. The Storm pipped the Warriors by a late field goal the next weekend, then lost by two points to the Sharks.

Bellamy was furious. His team was 6-2, cruising in anyone else's language, yet the great coach threatened to burn his team down - accusing them of lacking character.

"That's one thing I think we've been pretty strong at over the past couple of years, but after the last couple of weeks I'm starting to doubt if this group has got that," Bellamy said. "And we better find that, or I'll be finding some new players.

"There'll be a couple tapped on the shoulder saying you need to improve. I don't want to sit here and bulls--t to you. At the moment we aren't playing games out like Storm teams play games out."

They have since. They beat Parramatta 64-10 the following week.

If you're using the Hasler logic, Eels coach Brad Arthur should be a hot contender for Coach of the Year. He's lifted his side from the wooden spoon to the finals. Yet his 12-8 team is, by last direct measure, 54 points inferior to Bellamy's Storm.

Melbourne's Parramatta rout launched a nine-game winning streak that was only halted by Hasler's Manly, an 11-10 golden point thriller in round 19 at AAMI Park. It was a wonderful performance from the Sea Eagles, with captain Daly Cherry-Evans kicking the winning field goal.

Yet after smashing the Knights, Manly fell 24-16 to a poor Warriors team on Friday, when a win could have put them in the top four. They didn't aim up in a key game. They now sit an underwhelming 12-8, 10 points behind the Storm

By stark contrast, Melbourne thumped Brisbane 40-4, then rolled through their clinical defeat of South Sydney to cement themselves as the NRL's best side.

Gould has wondered if the Storm have another gear to call on for the finals, knowing that the Roosters certainly do after thumping Melbourne in last year's grand final. Bellamy believes his side can still improve; or die trying, and no one tries like Melbourne.

"I think we still have got another gear in a couple of areas but, having said that, sometimes you find another gear in another area and you lose it in another area again," he said.

"The thing that we are big on at the moment is trying to be consistent with our effort. Hopefully, in our way of thinking, that makes up for a little bit of lack of execution at times."

The Storm are now six points clear of the Roosters in the minor premiership race and with Raiders (H), Titans (H), Manly (A), Cowboys (H) as their four remaining games, they will finish first.

If Melbourne win every game, they will earn their best regular-season record under Bellamy since 2007. That three-loss side won the grand final with Smith, Slater, Cronk and Greg Inglis (over Hasler's Manly), only to be stripped of the title in the salary cap scandal.

A three-loss season this year would better the four-loss 2017 season, when Bellamy won Coach of the Year before leading his team to another grand final win. It would be the best regular-season record since 1995, when star-studded Manly and Canberra sides each recorded just two losses; in a 22-game competition compared to the current 24 matches.

Bellamy, who has won four grand finals for two recognised premierships, demands that his teams strive for perfection. It's astonishing how close they have come this season. The have the NRL's best defence by 52 points, the best attack by 10 points and the best differential by 85 points. They've only lost one away game.

The Storm already have more wins this season than last year. They lost a potential Immortal in Slater and have struggled to settle on a replacement fullback due to injuries, yet they have somehow improved as a team.

They are in the second year post-Cronk and Brodie Croft is only just settling into his role as the first-choice halfback. Munster is a superstar and so is Smith, still, but he's 36 years-old with 400 games under his belt.

This level of excellence should really not be possible. Though Melbourne has gradually evolved, of course.

Where once the 'Big Three/Four' reigned supreme in the Storm's salary cap and battlers filled the front-row, New Zealand Test props Jesse Bromwich and Nelson Asofa-Solomona are now belting out hard yards. Kenny Bromwich, Felise Kaufusi and Dale Finucane make it an all Test/Origin pack.

Then there's pure speed on the wings through Suliasi Vunivalu and Josh Addo-Carr, plus an Origin veteran in the centres in Will Chambers. It is by no means a team thin on talent.

Yet Bellamy's ability to seamlessly plough through roster upheaval has been astounding. At the start of this season, Hynes was his fourth-choice fullback; yet he debuted in a high-stakes game on Sunday and played like a veteran.

Bellamy, more than any other coach of this era, has made his players better. His exploits this year have been extraordinary, even by his lofty standards.

The Storm will win the minor premiership if they beat Canberra on Saturday and the Roosters are upset by the Warriors. Melbourne could become the first team to secure the JJ Giltinan Shield with three rounds to play since Brisbane in 2000.

In the big picture, they are pushing for a fourth-straight grand final, despite losing all-time greats Cronk and Slater in consecutive years.

While the Dally M judges love rewarding a big resurgence more often than continued excellence (see below), it would be a rort if any coach other than Bellamy took out this year's award.

DALLY M COACH OF THE YEAR AWARDS, THIS DECADE

2010: Brian Smith

Took Sydney Roosters from the wooden spoon in 2009 to sixth, reaching the grand final; where his side lost to the Dragons, who Wayne Bennett led to a second consecutive minor premiership.

2011: Craig Bellamy

Won the minor premiership after playing 2010 for no points due to the salary cap scandal; which ravaged his side for the following season.

2012: Des Hasler

Having won the 2011 premiership with Manly, defected to the Bulldogs and took them from ninth in 2011 to the minor premiership and a grand final; losing to Bellamy's Storm.

2013: Trent Robinson

Won the minor premiership and the grand final with the Roosters in his first season as an NRL head coach, after they finished 13th in 2012.

2014: Ivan Cleary

Lifted the Panthers from 10th in 2013 to fourth. They finished level on points with the Rabbitohs, who ultimately won their first premiership in 43 years under Michael Maguire.

2015: Wayne Bennett

Returned to Brisbane and elevated the Broncos from eighth in 2014 to second, reaching the grand final. They were beaten by Paul Green's Cowboys, who he lifted from ninth in 2014 to the same 2015 points tally as Brisbane, in just his second season as a head coach.

2016: Ricky Stuart

Took the Canberra club, where he won three premierships as a players, from 10th in 2015 to second.

2017: Craig Bellamy

Led Melbourne to back-to-back minor premierships, losing just four games, and went on to win the grand final.

2018: Anthony Seibold

Lifted South Sydney from 12th to third in his first season as an NRL head coach. Bellamy came within eight differential points of claiming a minor premiership hat-trick, before his side lost to Robinson's first-placed Roosters in the grand final.

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