Fittler exclusive: Storm's secrets revealed

There is no question Melbourne has owned the first decade of the new millennium. A skilled coaching staff, clever spending, freakish players and refereeing have all contributed to their success over the last ten years.<br><br>The one person who sits at the front of my mind is no doubt Craig Bellamy. A coach with immense strength and a work ethic to match. <br><br>Midway through the 2009 Premiership there were obvious signs of doubt in the Melbourne camp. <br><br>Sitting on the cusp of the eight and going backwards… something had to be done. The group sat down and discussed their predicament. The result of the meeting was faster, slicker ball movement. <br><br>Generally, when coaches implement a new attacking style - it’s left for the off season where hours upon hours of drills and opposed sessions give you the luxury of mistakes. Melbourne did this within a week.<br>&nbsp;<br>When I tried to change the Roosters, I moved Braith Anasta to lock because I saw our strength as short passing through the middle. It failed in the trials, and at Braith’s request I put him back to five-eighth. A sign of weakness on my behalf. <br><br>Craig Bellamy showed initiative in pronouncing a weakness and took the necessary steps to correct it. <br><br>The ability and willingness of the players to adapt to the change was miraculous. Something that had worked so well for them over the past five years was tweaked in a meeting where all the players were involved. <br><br>I believe this has been the backbone to the Melbourne fortune. The ability of players who come from environments where they are not wanted into a structure and style that brings out the best in them. <br><br>In 2008 Clint Newton - a reject under Brian Smith at Newcastle - travelled south for an opportunity. With massive defensive deficiencies he was encouraged to work tirelessly to fit into the Melbourne structure.&nbsp; He earned himself a Premiership ring. This year Brett Finch walked away from a multi-million dollar deal because he was told he didn’t fit the Parramatta attacking style. Within half a season, Finchy had the confidence to lay the first Grand Final try on for Ryan Hoffman and ultimately earn himself a Premiership ring as well. <br><br>To be able to have a culture strong enough where any player, even rejects, end up performing at their best is directly related to the senior players.&nbsp; But more so the head coach, because he breeds that culture into the senior players. <br><br>Another key reason behind the Storm’s success is their expenditure. This year they would have spent $21 million, second behind the Brisbane Broncos at $25 million. They will run at a $6 million dollar loss which New Limited will fund. <br><br>But they have a coaching structure second to none. Assistants (field and technical), medical and office staff. They lead the way when it comes to professionalism. <br><br>In comparison, I believe the Roosters and other clubs run at a budget of about $12 million. Quite an advantage if you have the right people on the bus sitting in the right seats. <br><br>Craig Bellamy is in control of the Storm bus. <br><br>On top of that, the Victorian Government has forked out $300 million for a purpose-built stadium which will be shared with A-league side the Melbourne Victory. <br><br>To the victor come the spoils. <br><br>Post Grand Final, there were criticisms of referee Tony Archer who awarded Melbourne a penalty breaking Parramatta’s momentum with only minutes to play. Personally, I wasn’t that fussed but I am critical of the way referees have ruled the ruck for the past five years. <br><br>Every so often the referees get together and decide how the game is to be adjudicated.&nbsp; Dummy runner obstruction plays, high tackles, lifting tackles, marker dynamics and so on. Normally they get together when they feel a team has adapted to the rules too well. &nbsp;<br><br>The Melbourne Storm, under the tutorage of wrestling coaches and under the direction of Craig Bellamy, have isolated the ruck or the tackle as the most effective place to win a game. Slow that down and you can win. Getting three people in, peeling off slowly &amp; tricky body manoeuvring are all ways in which the Storm have dominated this part of the game. <br><br>The referee’s brains trust comes up with calls and time limits in which to combat this. The ridiculous thing is what they have done is strengthen it. I picked at least six times in the Grand Final where players had no business still pursuing the tackle. This has been the Storm’s greatest weapon. <br><br>You may ask why other teams don’t employ the same tactics. Well, they do. Maybe for not as long but every team attempts to slow the ruck down. What is forgotten though, is how hard the Storm work on this ground battle. <br><br>This is the part of training where players find mysterious injuries. It’s tough physically and mentally. <br>&nbsp; <br>If coaching is about selling ideas (which it is) then Craig Bellamy could be Donald Trump selling ice to Eskimos. <br><br>In a generation where kids ask a relentless amount of questions and won’t get out of bed unless there is something in it for them – Bellamy has sold the Melbourne Storm players the unsellable. He has changed his group of generation “Y’s” into a tough, trusting bond of brothers who don’t question and just do.&nbsp; This alone is the greatest feat of any person in rugby league over the last ten years. <br><br>I take my hat off to the Melbourne Storm and especially to their coach.&nbsp; With a new $300 million facility, these guys will be even harder to beat.&nbsp; Melbourne are also the Toyota Cup Premiers – with the same relentless attitude already spreading to the next band of brothers. <br><br>But maybe there is one hiccup... with news ex Prime Minister John Howard has been offered the chairman role for the NRL. This may see a quick exodus of News Limited out of Rugby League.&nbsp; If that happens… does anyone have a spare $6 million??!! <br>