Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy has reached an incredible milestone after he coached his 500th match at the club.
The achievement came during the Storm’s 15-14 golden-point win against the South Sydney Rabbitohs at AAMI Park.
Bellamy becomes just the fourth coach to achieve the milestone, with the master coach being awarded the Dally M Coach of the Year six times and maintains a winning ratio of 70.1 per cent.
With Bellamy at the helm, the Storm have won three premierships, played in an amazing eight NRL grand finals and finished in the top-eight on 18 occasions.
Speaking to Channel Nine, former Melbourne Storm captain and star hooker Cameron Smith, who retired last year after playing his entire career at Melbourne, was asked what sets Bellamy apart from other coaches.
“I think just his ability to stay at the top for such a long period of time, like he’s 20 years in – 500 games tonight – he’s the fourth coach to do it in our game’s history but in those years he’s never, ever waivered,” Smith said.
Smith described his former mentor as the ‘greatest coach of the modern era’ and despite coming across as intense in the coaches box, Bellamy can be light-hearted who cares deeply for his players.
“I’d love more people to see the bloke away from footy, and particularly in the 80 minutes, that’s how he carries on in the 80 minutes and he’s all hard on the sleeve because it means so much to him and he wants his players to be the very best they can be,” Smith said.
“He is one of the most relaxed blokes getting around, he loves his players, he wants the very best for them and their families and, you know, he’s loyal to a fault so I really hope tonight is special for him.”
Speaking after the Storm’s thrilling win against the Rabbitohs, Bellamy thanked Rabbitohs’ coach Jason Demetriou and his side, the AAMI Park crowd and acknowledged the support he has received from his family over his 19 year career.
With Bellamy’s wife, son, daughter and grandchildren in the crowd, the coaching great was surprised with the presence of his sister, Gail.
“I think Gail’s probably been to about three NRL games in her life – about three of the grand finals – so it’s great for to come down and take the effort, I really appreciate it,” he said.
Bellamy described the match against the Rabbitohs as ‘one hell of a game’ and thanked everyone involved with the Melbourne Storm, especially his playing group.
“You guys, you have made it a really special night tonight”.
The Australian Rugby League Commission Chairman Peter V’landys AM described Bellamy as one of the game’s greatest coaches and praised the values of the Storm mentor.
“Craig is one of the greatest coaches in the history of our game. Only three other coaches have coached 500 games. What makes Craig’s achievement even more special is that all 500 games have been at one club,” V’landys said.
“Craig has achieved everything in rugby league. He has won grand finals, minor premierships and no less than six Dally M Coach of the Year Awards.”
“What I particularly admire about Craig is the leadership qualities he instils in his players. So many players join the Storm as kids and leave the Storm as leaders. That speaks volumes about Craig and his values.”
Speaking to Channel Nine after his side’s win, Storm five-eighth Cameron Munster said Bellamy has helped him a lot individually and he is glad the players got the win for their coach.
“If we lost it, I don’t know if I would have left the field to be honest,” Munster said.
“I would’ve been crying, he has done so much for this club and he has done a lot for me as well so I am so thankful that Paps (Papenhuyzen) was clutch enough tonight to get that one point.”
With the Storm winning their opening two games of the 2022 NRL season, Bellamy is on track for another successful season with more achievements to come his way.