Sheens tips Bellamy's Storm to win - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Sheens tips Bellamy's Storm to win

By Adrian Proszenko 24/09/2006 06:54:52 PM Comments (0)

In what has been dubbed a battle between the master and the apprentice, reigning premiership coach Tim Sheens predicted Craig Bellamy will come out the victor in Sunday's NRL grand final.

Adding intrigue to the first decider between two non-NSW teams, the Telstra Stadium clash between Melbourne and Brisbane pits Bellamy against the man he learned his trade from, veteran mentor Wayne Bennett.

And in a further twist, Bellamy is widely tipped to become Bennett's successor when the 56-year-old eventually finishes his tenure with the Broncos.

Four-time premiership winner Sheens tipped the Bellamy-coached Storm to win, denting and dent Bennett's perfect record of five wins from five grand finals with the Broncos.

"The master and apprentice, it's a line and I can understand why it's being used, but I don't think that (inexperience) will be an issue this week," said Sheens, who employed Bellamy for four years as part of his coaching staff in Canberra.

"Craig's been in the business a while now, he's done his apprenticeship and shown this year by winning the minor premiership that they'll give a good account of themselves.

"There's no doubt that experience counts in these sorts of issues but realistically it all comes down to how Craig handles his preparations this week.

"Unless he changes something dramatically or tries too hard or gets too worried ... I don't think he will."

He added: "Just looking at their form, I lean towards Melbourne. They're attacking and defending well and have been consistent all year."

Bookmakers and punters agree with Sheens, with the Storm shortening to $1.75 after their disposal of St George Illawarra with the Broncos at $2.00. TAB Sportsbet's Glenn Munsie said they were getting four times as many bets for Melbourne as for Brisbane.

Bellamy was an assistant to Bennett between 1998-2002, helping guide the Broncos to two premierships during that period. When asked about squaring off against the wily veteran, Bellamy joked: "Who does he coach, the Broncos?

"He's done a wonderful job at the Broncos over a long period of time, this is his sixth grand final, so that's a wonderful effort in anyone's language.

"He's certainly got a little bit more experience than me, so they might be better prepared than us, I'm not quite sure.

"They haven't lost one either, so it would be nice if we could change that.

Asked had they spoken recently, Bellamy said: "I've only spoken to him once in the last six months or so, certainly us playing in the grand final wasn't on the menu when I spoke to him.

"We probably won't talk much this week, I would imagine."

Broncos CEO Bruno Cullen didn't rule out Bellamy eventually taking over from Bennett at his club, declaring "you want the best and he's certainly amongst those at the moment".

"It's master and the apprentice, mate," Cullen told Sydney radio station 2SM of the match-up.

"He spent a lot of time learning his trade with us but he's his own individual now, he's not Wayne Bennett's clone or in his shadow."

However, Sheens doubted Bellamy would ever coach the Broncos.

"I doubt it, I'd be surprised if Craig leaves Melbourne," Sheens said.

"Why would he? Brisbane's an ageing team and you've got Melbourne a young team coming through."

Sydney Roosters lock Ashley Harrison, part of the Broncos' premiership-winning team in 2000, said there were many similarities between Bennett and Bellamy's coaching styles.

"When I was at Brisbane they pretty much shared the workload, it was 50-50," Harrison said.

"Even then Bells had some great ideas and everyone responded to him, he was good at getting his point across without too much confusion.

"They had a different approach, but it was easy to follow instructions from both of them.

"They are more similar than different.

"They are both strict on doing the little things in games, doing the things to the strengths of the team."

Meanwhile, Broncos prop Petero Civoniceva is expected to escape suspension for his high shot on Sonny Bill Williams during Friday's win against the Bulldogs.

With no carry over points to worry about, Civoniceva would have to receive a grading of three on a careless high tackle charge to miss the decider, a result that seems unlikely.

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