NRL GRAND FINAL
Cameron Smith likes to smile; Craig Bellamy finds it hard to. But this odd couple is at the heart of Melbourne's quest to win Sunday's NRL grand final against Canterbury.
Sources close to Bellamy claim he's mellowed in recent years, but the former NSW coach still cuts an intense, brooding figure with a fierce desire to win.
Coaching boxes up and down the country have borne the brunt of his frustrations for almost a decade but, in Smith, the Storm have one of the most personable players in the game and a captain who takes everything in his stride.
And Bellamy believes it's this yin and yang that's helped the Storm reach five of the last seven grand finals.
"He's calm and composed, unlike myself," Bellamy said yesterday.
"I suppose we rub off on one another when we need to.
"When we need to be excited I take control. When we need to be composed Cam does.
"He's a wonderful leader and that's shown by the fact he is captain of our club, his state and our country."
But it wasn't initially all sweetness and light between the pair, with Smith's laid-back nature initially not going down well with the ultra-professional young mentor.
"He was a bit hard to put up with early in his career with his lack of time management, which would be the nice way to put it," Bellamy said.
"He would be right on the edge when it came to meetings and training.
"But that's how he is. Nothing seems to fluster him."
Smith said Bellamy's tendency to rage was often a source of great amusement to the squad, but his attention to detail and planning was second to none.
‘‘If I wasn’t there I don’t know what would be going on in some of those meetings. He’d be going right off the handle,’’ Smith said.
‘‘I play a bit of a role there. I joke around a bit and take the piss out of him in front of the boys and it is a bit of a laugh.
‘‘But I think it’s good for Craig and for some of the other boys.
‘‘We get a bit of a laugh and a smile from him, which we don’t get to see too often and the other players get to see another side of him.
‘‘But you need someone like Bellyache, who’s intense and knows how to time preparations.
‘‘He gives us plenty of homework to look at and a lot of information to make us the best footy side we can be.’’
Bellamy and Des Hasler have met each other twice this season, with the Bulldogs coach coming out on top 20-4 the last time the sides faced off in Mackay.
Bellamy believes Sunday’s opponents caused more problems when Melbourne won 12-6 in round seven.
‘‘If you look back at the two games this year, they probably had more of the ball in Melbourne,’’ he said.
‘‘I don’t know how many passes were thrown in the two games by the Bulldogs, but they played a very expansive game in Melbourne.
‘‘It was a game that could have gone either way, but we defended real well that night and we can take a bit out of that.’’ AAP