Published by Joe McDonough, 14th November 2018 on foxsports.com.au
You just need to look through the 2019 list of NRL head coaches to see Craig Bellamy really is the master mentor.
Six of next season’s 16 coaches have worked under the supercoach at the Melbourne Storm, as has current Maroons coach Kevin Walters, who spent three years as his deputy in clubland from 2011-13.
Shane Flanagan has even hailed Bellamy’s influence, saying the three series (2008-10) he spent as his right hand man with the NSW Blues were invaluable to his development.
It is a formidable record for the man that helped mould the likes of Cameron Smith, Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk and Greg Inglis into the once-in-a-generation players they became, and makes you wonder just how greatly he has shaped modern rugby league generally.
One thing is for certain, if you want to be an NRL head coach an apprenticeship under Bellamy is a pretty good career move!
Michael Maguire (Storm assistant coach 2004-09)
The most successful of the Bellamy bunch, Maguire will always be a hero in Redfern for leading the Rabbitohs to their drought-breaking premiership in 2014.
He spent six seasons at Souths and made the finals four times, including the GF win and two other preliminary finals appearances.
That was after winning a Super League title with the Wigan Warriors in 2010, the club’s first in more than 10 years.
He returns to clubland with the Wests Tigers in 2019 after a year spent solely coaching the New Zealand Kiwis.
Stephen Kearney (Storm assistant coach 2006-10)
Kearney enjoyed plenty of success as New Zealand Kiwis head coach, including defeating Kangaroos in the 2008 World Cup final on Australian soil, and taking them to the final again in 2013.
His head coaching career started off shakily at the Eels, when he was sacked mid-season in his second year in charge, having notched just 10 wins from 42 games between 2011-12.
He didn’t fare much better in his return to the NRL coaching scene with the Warriors in 2017, but turned a corner last season, taking the Warriors to the finals for the first time since 2011.
Brad Arthur (Storm under 20s coach and then assistant coach 2007-10)
The Eels head coach has had a rollercoaster five years in charge.
His team has missed the finals in four of those years, including bagging last season’s wooden spoon, but in 2017 he led them to the top four — the first exciting year for Eels fans since 2009.
He’s had plenty of issues to contend with during his reign but importantly the players still want to turn up for him, so it’s understandable the Parramatta hierarchy are sticking with him for now.
Dean Pay (Storm under 20s coach 2010-12)
Pay was up against it from the start.
He inherited a basket-case of a club, whose playing roster was ravaged throughout the year because of the salary cap mess the previous administration had created.
And despite losing the likes of Moses Mbye and Aaron Woods mid-season, and being without Kieran Foran from round 12 onwards, he still led the Bulldogs to a respectable 12th-place finish, winning four of their last six games.
He also unearthed some promising talent in the likes of Lachlan Lewis and Rhyse Martin.
Anthony Seibold (Storm under 20s coach and then assistant coach 2013-15)
Seibold proved he was ready for the big time when he took the Rabbitohs to the preliminary final and was crowned Dally M Coach of the Year all in his rookie season in 2018.
Bellamy was gushing in his praise for his former skills development coach.
“(Seibold) was always a very impressive coach, sometimes you just need that opportunity,” Bellamy told The Daily Telegraph earlier this year.
“As he is showing now, he is always very well prepared whatever the situation. He presented really well, he was a schoolteacher so a lot of those guys are pretty natural at that.”
Seibold has agreed to coach the Broncos from 2020 on a three-year deal, but there is still speculation he could be heading to Brisbane before the 2019 season in a swap with Wayne Bennett.
Nathan Brown (coaching consultant 2015)
Brown actually started his first-grade coaching career at the same time as Bellamy, taking the clipboard at the Dragons in 2003.
But while he didn’t develop his trade under the super-coach, he did link up with the Storm in 2015 as a coaching consultant, after stints with Huddersfield and St Helens.
He assisted with the club’s recruitment, analysed the Storm’s opponents, and worked closely with Cameron Smith and the club’s young hookers.
From there he took on the mess at Newcastle created during the Bennett-Tinkler years.
And there is no doubt his coaching improved as a result of his behind-the-curtains look at the Bellamy operation, because he’s clearly setting the Knights up for a premiership tilt in the near future.