Outstanding Bellamy deserves another premiership
ANTHONY Siebold may have been awarded the Dally M Coach of the Year statuette at a swanky night on Sydney Harbour on Wednesday - a deserving recognition for the impressive young man - but he is not the NRL coach of the year.
That honour won't be decided until the final siren sounds at ANZ Stadium on Sunday night.
Whether it's Craig Bellamy or Trent Robinson, the coach whose team wins the premiership is the best coach of the year. Case closed.
Undoubtedly, rookie Siebold had outstanding success with the Rabbitohs in 2018, taking them from twelfth to third and being eliminated one game shyof the grand final. And he did it with the addition of just one big name, Dane Gagai.
But the bottom line remains - the Rabbitohs won't be on the big stage on the biggest day of the year. And Bellamy and Robinson, rightfully two of the other candidates for the award, will.
With the Storm $1.85 favourites to win the premiership, and become the first team since the Broncos in 1993 to go back-to-back in a united competition, Bellamy would have received my nod to be gonged coach of the year under the Dally M system. In fact, he surely must be close to being regarded as the greatest of all time.
His record is not just outstanding, it is amazing. Since he joined Melbourne in 2003 - in his first NRL head coach appointment - the Storm has missed the finals just once, and that was in 2010 when playing for no competition points because of salary cap issues.
In his 16 seasons as coach of the Storm, the club has won four premierships and been beaten in three other grand finals. And the fact the club was stripped of the 2007 and 2009 premiership titles does not detract from Bellamy's ability as a coach.
Should the Storm win Sunday's grand final, Bellamy's record will stand at 287 wins from 421 matches played, a winning percentage of 68.17. Only Norm Provan, this year inducted as the game's 14th Immortal, has a better record, 68.5 percent.
But others who have coached more than 150 matches at the elite level of the game in this country since 1908 are in Bellamy's shadow. The list includes multiple Dally M Coach of the Year winners Wayne Bennett, Bob Fulton, Tim Sheens, Roy Masters, Brian Smith, George Piggins, Chris Anderson and John Lang.
Bellamy - just for the record - has won the award four times, one more than Bennett. And while Bellamy's achievements were obviously outstanding in those winning years, it is debatable whether he was under more pressure than when heading into the current season.
Not only did he lose Cooper Cronk, arguably the most influential halfback in the game since Andrew Johns, but international forwards Tohu Harris and Jordan Mclean also departed AAMI Park.
But Bellamy did what he had always done. He promoted players such as Joe Stimson, Christian Welch, Jarome Hughes, Brodie Croft and Brandon Smith from his seemingly endless production line.
Champion fullback Billy Slater may warrant a fitting farewell, but no one deserves another premiership victory more than the absolute professional Craig Bellamy.