Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy.
Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy. JULIAN SMITH

Bellamy's support for under-fire mate Clarkson

MELBOURNE Storm and Hawthorn Football Club have plenty in common.

Together they have dominated Australia's two major football codes for the better part of a decade.

Although this has not always led to premierships, their ability to be at the forefront of innovation and competition has created dual legacies that will live on for generations.

And at the helm of these two proud organisations are two fiercely competitive men with unquenchable thirsts for success.

Craig Bellamy began his Storm coaching journey in 2003. Since then, his team has won three premierships, lost three grand finals and made another four semi-finals. A winning record of 67% across 368 matches puts him in elite company.

Similarly, Alastair Clarkson has overseen a dynasty at Hawthorn. Four flags plus another grand final appearance makes him one of the greatest coaches in living memory.

At a time when equalisation is more prevalent than ever before, Clarkson has stood out among the pack. His winning percentage of 62.55% does not take into account two rebuilding years when he first arrived at the club and this season's winless start.

So it's no surprise that Bellamy and Clarkson often keep abreast of each other's activities, so much so that the Hawks coach has sat in the AAMI Park coach's box to learn from the NRL tactical genius.

"To stay up there for that long, you've done one hell of a job," Bellamy said of Clarkson on AFL 360.

"It will always end at some stage. When the end does come, it's disappointing for some people.

"At the end of the day, I don't think Alistair will overreact to that.

"He will work out a process or a system that they will need to use to get them back on track again. I just know how competitive that guy is and their senior players, I know how competitive they've been."

Bellamy, who last year recommitted to the Storm until the end of 2018, praised Clarkson's message when the Hawks coach came to offer advice in the lead-up to NRL grand final week last year.


Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson.
Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson. JOE CASTRO

Although the Storm lost 14-12 to the Cronulla Sharks, Clarkson's words still linger in the minds of coaches and players alike at AAMI Park.

"He came in and, without giving away any secrets, he spoke about a couple of things that seemed very important to his club and the successful teams he's played in," Bellamy said.

"There were a couple of really important things that he built their culture and team on.

"Our senior players, you could see their ears prickling when he was talking to them."

Both Clarkson and Bellamy have let their tempers get the better of them occasionally, something the rugby league great says comes down to overzealous passion.

"His passion really sticks out to me," Bellamy said.

"Sometimes there is that unbridled passion that can get you into some strife. He is such a smart guy as well and he's passionate.

"He's very cluey to what he believes in and he sticks to that. He believes strongly in his values and what he thinks is important in a footy club. That's why he's played such a big part in Hawthorn's success."

Bellamy also discussed Cooper Cronk's decision to move to a Sydney club at the end of the season. Bellamy said the halfback has his blessing to do as he pleases beyond 2017 after notching more than 300 appearances for the Storm in a career spanning 14 seasons.

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