HIS name is starting to appear on NRL coaching shortlists but Melbourne Storm assistant Adam O’Brien says he plans to remain at the “Harvard” of coaching under Craig Bellamy for as long as he can.
New Bulldogs coach Dean Pay is the latest Storm coaching alumni to graduate to the NRL head coaching ranks, joining the likes of Michael Maguire, Nathan Brown and Brad Arthur.
It was former Batemans Bay Tigers teammate Arthur who took O’Brien south when he took charge of a Storm NYC side featuring Jesse Bromwich, Tohu Harris, Jordan McLean, Kevin Proctor and Gareth Widdop.
It set him on the path to becoming Bellamy’s assistant in a grand final winning side, something he could never have imagined when he went along for the ride with Arthur a decade ago.
“It’s the best decision I ever made joining Brad with the under 20s, but just joining the Melbourne Storm organisation,” O’Brien said.
“At the time I’d had a few injuries playing footy, I had a few knee injuries and shoulder injuries.
“I don’t think I could’ve given the game up cold turkey so I thought I’d give this coaching thing a bit of a go.
“Thankfully the club I’m at with Craig is not only good at developing players he develops coaches as well. You can see how many there are in the NRL now who’ve worked under him. It’s made me a lot better coach but they make you a better person as well.
“It’s an unbelievable club and I’m privileged to be a part of it and be around so many once in a lifetime players. It’s all about timing and I was in the right place at the right time and I’m very grateful.”
O’Brien has been credited with the attacking overhaul that propelled the Storm to this year’s title, a 34-6 grand final victory over the Cowboys an emphatic endorsement of the new approach.
“The boys worked really hard all through preseason and during the season on changing out attack a little bit,” O’Brien said.
“I think having Billy [Slater] back was massive for us, that can’t be understated, but it’s a credit to the boys. They were willing to accept a few changes, they went out and trained the arse out of it and applied it into the game.
“Not in our wildest dreams did we think we’d get a [grand final] scoreline like that but it just shows if you’re willing to put the work in those things will fall your way more often than not.”
Bellamy is off-contract in 2018 and will no doubt attract big-money interest from rival clubs. O’Brien and fellow assistant Jason Ryles would be candidates to succeed him should he be lured away.
They could also attract some interest in the NRL and UK Super League but O’Brien insists he’s in no hurry to move on.
“I think Craig’s got a lot more coaching left in him and I’m just happy to stay a part of that. I’d quite happily stay here forever,” he said.
“I’m at the Harvard of coaching and I’m certainly in no hurry to leave. If something presents itself down the track I’d obviously look at it but I’m very happy where I am at the moment.”