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Craig Bellamy has built a dynasty at Melbourne.

Ricky Stuart was in his final season as halfback with the Canterbury Bulldogs and feeding a scrum against the Broncos at Brisbane's QEII Stadium.

His former Canberra Raiders teammate and fellow 1990 premiership-winner Craig Bellamy was assistant coach to Wayne Bennett at Red Hill in those days.

"Craig was in the yellow or blue shirt for the Broncos running the water," Stuart tells

"I was about to feed the scrum and Craig was giving it to Gorden Tallis – barking orders at him full pelt.

"I said to him 'Shut up because we're all about to drown out here'."

The Bellamy spittle from a tongue-lashing he is giving his players after a mistake, or over a referee decision, is always on the front window of the AAMI Park coach's box. The television cameras delight in filming the Bellamy explosions. And it's where he gets the 'Bellyache' nickname from.

Then there's the Bellamy who takes his two grandchildren to the park to play on the swings and share babycinos.

Stuart has no concerns reconciling the Dr Jekyll and My Hyde character of his good friend.

"That's Craig. He's a very humble guy but he wears his heart on his sleeve," he said.

"He probably doesn't hold the emotions back as well as some other coaches, but he doesn't care about that and neither should he.

"It's a part of who Craig is, it's been in his nature for as long as I've known him. He's always blowing up.

"It's because he's a very caring bloke. He cares about his mates, he cares about his players, he cares about his family – even more so now with grandchildren."

One of Bellamy's mentors and another confidante is former Dragons and Western Suburbs coach Roy Masters, now an award-winning Fairfax journalist.

He has witnessed first-hand how Bellamy doesn't miss the detail in any situation.

"We were at a 'Men of League' do, post one NRL season, for an international in Melbourne," Masters tells

"Craig was speaking to the audience and a bloke kept loudly chatting to his companion. I was interviewing Craig and he responded to the questions well, but kept an eye on the bloke and wanted to know all about him afterwards.

"It took me back to the days I was a coach, speaking at half-time but watching all the body language, or studying a game but also monitoring the extraneous 'noise'."

Back in the 'Green Machine' glory days, Stuart had an inkling Bellamy might end up coaching.

"The one thing I saw in Craig was how much he loved the game. He was a very studious kind of player. He took on board all the strategies, tactics, and innovative ideas of his coaches," Stuart said.

"He had a notebook and pencil and was always writing things down. That was the one eye-opener if you were thinking about whether he was going to be a coach or not."

Masters said it would be easy to describe Bellamy to someone who had never heard of him.

"He is immensely respectful to anyone, be the person a disadvantaged Storm supporter from the northern suburbs of Melbourne, or a rugby league person of eminence," Masters said.

"His attitude of treating all men and women equally derives from his background in Portland [central NSW] where his father was a miner and his mother Betty worked in a linen factory.

"His honesty and work ethic separate him from most. Players appreciate his respectful directness and he is always the first to work."

It's been more than 35 years since his father Norm died in a work accident on the Australia Day long weekend. Bellamy was 21.

Subconsciously it has shaped a lot of how Bellamy views the world, treats people, especially his players. He wants to hear everyone's individual story, he has a deep love of family, he expects dedication and hard work from everyone for the common good.

"He is a 'Big Picture' guy but not in the sense of the strategic, advertising/marketing men on million dollar salaries, who profess to see the future and all its implications. Craig sees the important issues and dismisses the trivial," Masters said.

Bellamy told he's not sure if losing his own father makes him more determined to be there for some of the young men under his control.

"I don't try to be their father for any of my players," he told "If they need a father figure, or someone older to talk to, because a lot of them come here as young guys and they are a long way from home, then I'm here.

"I would never take the place of their father, or interfere in that sort of relationship, but if they need a little advice I'll give it. I've also given some advice when they don't think they need it, just quietly.

"But in making them improve as footy players, they'll also have a good outlook on life as well."

Three days after the 2018 Telstra Premiership grand final between his team Storm and the Roosters, Bellamy turns 60. He signed a three-year extension in June because he's not done yet.

"I grew up with the game and have always loved the game," he said.

"Sometimes I've fallen out of love with it, but my biggest reason for getting up every day is to just try and help young people be better footy players and better people.

"I like seeing players develop through rugby league, which then gives them a good start to whatever they want to do in the next part of their life.

"That's what it is that keeps me going."


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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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