IT can be hard to find local connections in a grand final featuring teams from Melbourne and Townsville, but there’ll be a strong Illawarra-South Cost presence in the Storm’s coaching ranks.
Melbourne has had a habit of churning out NRL head coaches with the likes of Michael Maguire, Nathan Brown and Brad Arthur having spent time in the system.
The resume of forwards and defensive coach Jason Ryles is well known but Batemans Bay product Adam O’Brien is also quietly pushing a case as an NRL head coach of the future.
O’Brien was a teammate of Arthur’s in the latter’s stint as captain-coach of the Batemans Bay Tigers with the current Eels mentor taking him south when he shifted to Melbourne.
They took charge of an under 20s side that featured the likes of Jesse Bromwich and Jordan McLean as well as now departed stars Kevin Proctor and Gareth Widdop.
He’s progressed through the ranks to become the Storm’s attack coach and will have the, perhaps unenviable, task of sitting next to the famously volatile Craig Bellamy in Sunday’s decider.
“The good thing about Bellyache is he treats his coaches like he treats his players,” O’Brien told Kick-off last season.
“If you do the work you can make your way up so I’m very thankful to be there.”