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NRL news | Melbourne Storm’s Craig Bellamy greatest coach ever, Andrew Johns says

Craig Bellamy is the greatest coach in rugby league history and will have his fingerprints all over Melbourne Storm even when he stands down.

That’s the call from Andrew Johns, with the Eighth Immortal saying that the extraordinary consistency of Bellamy’s success made him No.1 over fellow coaching icons like Jack Gibson and Wayne Bennett.

Bellamy has announced that he will remain with the Storm until the end of 2026 and keep coaching until at least the end of next season.

With his team yet again leading the NRL this year, he may add to his three premierships before stepping down as head coach.

“Best coach of all time,” Johns said on Wide World of Sports’ Freddy and the Eighth. “Twenty years coaching, nine grand finals, haven’t missed the semis; missed it once, when they got caught rorting the cap. Best coach ever.”

Bellamy would have five premierships to his name if not for the rorting scandal that deleted titles from 2007 and 2009. He built a Melbourne regime famed for its dedication to excellence and the results speak for themselves.

Johns said that the Storm had made the most of bit-part players, especially props, and had handled the loss of elite talent better than any other club.

“Over a 10-year period, they lost Israel Folau, Greg Inglis, Billy Slater – the BIg Three, obviously. Billy, [Cooper] Cronk and Cameron [Smith],” Johns said.

“When other clubs lose a champion player, just one, they struggle for years. They just keep keeping on.”

Fellow NRL great Brad Fittler said that the senior players under Bellamy’s reign deserved some credit for Melbourne’s perpetual success. He also suggested that Gibson and Bennett had to remain in the coaching GOAT conversation.

“I don’t think you can put it down to one person, especially when the success goes over such a long period,” he said on Freddy and the Eighth.

“But I think those players like Billy and Cam have had a big effect on Harry Grant and [Ryan] Papenhuyzen.

“Craig, obviously, has had a huge part in what’s gone on there, without a doubt. But those other players have really set the standard of how the Storm play and what’s expected at the club.”

Johns suggested that Bellamy would gradually become like iconic Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson in his twilight years with the Storm.

“He’ll oversee everything,” Johns said.

“You listen to Man United right towards the end, Alex Ferguson would be coaching the team but they wouldn’t see him that often; only before big games … certain times where he’d come down on the field and they’d be like, ‘Ooh, here he comes’.

“If he doesn’t coach, he’ll be overseeing everything and still have his fingerprints on everything.”

One blip on Bellamy’s CV, relative to Bennett, is his struggle at State of Origin level. Bennett has led Queensland to five series wins, while Bellamy struggled to adapt his coaching style to the format while recording three losses in charge of NSW from 2008-10.

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