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Bellamy's leap of faith

By Todd Balym 30/09/2009 05:52:08 AM Comments (0)

It was the biggest gamble of Craig Bellamy's career and could become the moment that defines the Melbourne coach's second NRL premiership.

Just two weeks before the NRL finals series, Bellamy pulled his coaching staff and key players into club headquarters and threw out the playbook that had got them into three successive grand finals.

A 20-16 loss to reigning premiers Manly burned him so badly that Bellamy decided he was "kidding" himself thinking Melbourne's attack would magically click into gear and took matters into his own hands.

And together with the Storm brains trust, he rebuilt their attack.

Bellamy admitted such drastic action was a massive risk two weeks out from the finals, but believes they wouldn't be preparing to play Parramatta in their fourth straight grand final if they hadn't changed.

"It was late to be doing it but it needed doing if we were going to be in the position we're in now. It was what we had to do," he said.

"I was as much of the problem as them.

"We just had so many opportunities (against Manly) and we didn't even come close.

"(Until then) I didn't think we were too bad, I don't know whether I was kidding myself a bit saying `we're not too far away from it, so just make a little change here, a little change there, whatever'.

"I sat down with our spine and spoke to them about our ideas and they added a couple of ideas to it and we just went to it.

"I can't remember how long the meeting went but it was a pretty long meeting and we made sure we were all very clear before we left the room how we were going to go about it."

Exactly what changes were made no-one at Melbourne HQ would say, but the results are staggering.

From rounds 1-24 the Storm's attack was terrible.

When it came to points scored (average 19.9), only Parramatta (19.5), the Roosters (16.5), the Warriors (16.2) and the Sharks (14.5) were worse.

It was a similar theme in other attacking indicators like tries scored (11th in the NRL), offloads (15th) and metres gained (10th).

Making matters worse was the fact they were ranked third for tackle breaks, sixth for errors and eighth in linebreaks, which meant they were creating but not completing.

But since that overhaul, the Storm are back to No.1 almost across the board.

They've virtually doubled their linebreaks and tries scored, cut back on errors, carried the ball more than 200m more per game and had a 50 per cent increase in tackle breaks.

Furthermore they've outscored the opposition 148-26 in four games - two of them finals.

Bellamy said he is amazed his side has made the grand final after the way they started 2009.

"It was a big overhaul, but the players really adapted it," he said.

"(Then) it all seemed to come together for us ... to be quite honest we haven't really looked back since with our attack.

"If someone said eight or 12 weeks ago we'd be in the grand final in 2009 I probably would have wrapped him up in a straight jacket and sent him off to the asylum."

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