Craig Bellamy attributes his time with the All Blacks with Melbourne’s stunning season.
Bellamy and Storm football manager Frank Ponissi spent time with New Zealand during the off-season in Chicago following Melbourne’s 2016 grand final loss to the Sharks.
The master of reinvention, Bellamy has taken the Storm to seven grand finals since joining the club ion 2003 and is well on his way to doing it this year as his side sits six points clear of the second-placed Broncos with three rounds remaining.
And Bellamy reckons his stint with the All Blacks, arguably the greatest team in world sport, has helped give the Storm an edge.
One that could see the club claim its third premiership as ageing stars Billy Slater, Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk near the end of their careers.
“The All Blacks coaching staff and the footy staff as a whole hasn’t changed too much…basically they are still the same (coaching) group since when we first visited in 2010,” Bellamy told Fox League.
“Steve Hanson (coach) has come in and the playing group has changed a lot and there weren’t many guys there that were in 2010.
“But, I tell you what, as a playing group, nothing had changed. You can understand why they are so successful and all the success that they’ve had."
Bellamy is known for transforming fringe players into NRL journeymen and representative players.
But the mentor’s biggest deciding factor in signing a player is not just the talent he brings to the team but what they offer the organisation as a person.
Bellamy said the All Blacks operated the same way, reinforcing his own tactics to bring the best out of a player.
“They (All Blacks) are just so humble and welcoming to outsiders and I think their saying is a likeable one and it’s that ‘better people make better All Blacks’," he said.
“And that’s a bit of a theory that we’ve had down here as well. And that is something they live day in and day out.
“There were a few things we picked up from them footy–wise as far as our attack went that had helped us.
“But just their culture of how they project themselves and how they treat people is wonderful. You can understand they are lauded over the in New Zealand, but, they are just so down to earth and so humble and it’s a wonderful experience to spend a bit of time with them.”
Melbourne face the Knights in Newcastle on Saturday.
A win would likely sew up their fourth minor premiership.