Coffee with Craig Bellamy: Part One

Rugby league tragics would pay a pretty penny to be able to tap into the mind of Craig Bellamy.

One of the greatest coaches of the modern era, Bellamy took the reigns at Melbourne in 2003 and has since guided them to the finals in 12 of his 13 seasons in charge.

Now the Storm will prepare to host a preliminary final against North Queensland next Saturday in the hopes of booking a place in their sixth grand final in the last 10 years.

Having been granted the week off, Bellamy gave NRL.com the opportunity to sit down over a couple of cappuccinos to get his thoughts on a number of wide-ranging issues.

Craig Bellamy on...

The current Storm situation

The pre-season predictions heading into 2015 were much as they have been for a couple of years now.

The 'Big Three' were getting on, the side lacked depth, you've heard it all before. Just missing the eight was where the majority of pundits had the boys from Melbourne finishing.

However 14 wins later, a top-four finish secured and now having beaten the minor premiers in week one of the finals the Melbourne 2015 story has taken another plot twist.

It comes as no surprise that Bellamy is not a man who cares much for pre-season predictions, in fact he makes a point of never forming one of his own.

That is not to say that the ones who doubt the men in purple go unnoticed.

"At the start of the year we were certainly written off and when Billy got hurt we were big time written off then," Bellamy said.

"But having said that, it was people's opinion at the start of the year, they are paid to have an opinion and good luck to them."

"I certainly don't take it personally but I suppose they were looking at our more inexperienced group that we had the year before or whether they think the 'Big Three' is getting old or getting past it, I'm not quite sure what their reasons were."

"The players have done a great job here, especially the younger players. That is probably the reason we are still in it because the young guys have been playing above expectation."

Melbourne's last four wins have been against every other team that finished in the top five on the ladder. They have also lost three times to a side sitting in bottom place and more than half of their losses this year came against teams in the bottom half of the eight. 

It has been that kind of season.

"When Cronulla got beat and we were in the top four I remember driving home thinking we usually have to be consistent to finish in the top four… I think that was a little bit strange.

"That is probably one thing we havn't had, a consistent season… I think that comes a little bit with inexperience."

Coaching Generation Y

When you have been in the coaching caper as long as Craig Bellamy you experience every kind of challenge the job can throw out you.

The latest one however has been how to deal with the new-age NRL player, the Gen Y footballer.

Bellamy has spoken through this season about the current Storm squad being one of the youngest in his time at the club. Taking out the 'Big Three' of Cronk, Slater and Smith, the average age of the Storm squad is 24 years old

The age bracket falls into the Gen Y category and presents its challenges for an NRL coach such as Bellamy who takes an old school approach where hard work brings rewards - not the other way around.

"It is not all of them but a higher percentage than from the generation before, they want everything straight away before they've earned it," Bellamy said.

"They are in a hurry but everyone is in a hurry these days whatever you do in life. Everyone wants success straight away but basically I think this generation has lost the mentally of 'If you want something you've got to earn it' and sometimes they want it before it's due.

"I find that a little bit hard but it isn't all of them, just a higher percentage than the generation before."

Cameron Munster is one to come from this Gen Y demographic. He is also one reason why Melbourne has managed to march on through September with superstar fullback Billy Slater watching from the sidelines.

"I look at Munster and nothing seems to concern him too much. He is a tough kid, to me that is his greatest attribute this year," Bellamy said. 

"He is a confident kid but I must say he is not a cocky kid. He is a bit cocky off the field but on the field he is just confident in what he can do and I think he knows what his limitations are as well."

Bellamy believes there is a fine line that the young players of today tread.

"You see some other players and there is a big difference between being confident and being cocky. The confident ones you want, the cocky ones you need to pull back down.

"Without doubt the thing that comes with [Gen Y] is confidence. In some cases it is over confidence, that is the thing you don't like."

In part two, Bellamy discusses rediscovering his enjoyment, his future and the state of the game.

Video first featured at melbournestorm.com.au