The mystery surrounding Cameron Smith’s playing future this year is just as perplexing as Craig Bellamy’s plans for next season.
The future of the champion Melbourne Storm coach has been a huge topic of discussion during the NRL pre-season considering this will be his final year in a head coaching capacity.
Clubs are lining up to have a chance at snaring the legendary coach with the Storm, Cronulla, Brisbane and even the new NRL franchise looking to enlist Bellamy in a coaching director’s role. Bellamy is expected to make a decision this week.
Neil Craig, the former Adelaide AFL mentor and current coach’s aid to Eddie Jones, claims Bellamy could hold multiple roles with several clubs if he really wanted to. However, being a coaching director is a delicate position and should come with several conditions.
Craig has worked with Eddie Jones since 2017 and has been a manager of performance at Essendon and a director of coaching at Carlton. The former AFL coach believes the position has to sit well with the coach and the director needs to find the right balance when dealing with coaches.
He said the driving factor must be because the head coach wanted a mentor like Bellamy in place, not because it would look like a recruiting win for the club or be a boost for corporate dollars.
“You would expect that clearly Craig, with his experience, would be able to go into an environment and be a great support to the head coach, if the head coach wants him; not because the board wants him, not because the supporter group wants him, not because the commercial department wants him because he’ll be fantastic to sell memberships.
“The head coach has to want him because if the head coach, deep down, doesn’t want him there, I can guarantee it will end in tears.
“In my opinion, I think it’s a model that should be explored and a model that could be very powerful. It could be a real competitive advantage. But it requires a lot of conversation between the head coach and the guy that’s coming in as a mentor for that to have a functional trusting relationship.”
Craig said only part of his role with Jones and England Rugby was dealing with the technical aspects of the role, like incorporating jumping in AFL into rugby. However, the biggest facet of the role is being there for the coach.
“It’s a critical friend, it’s a mentor, it’s a listener, a challenger, a micro monitor. That only works, first and foremost, because Eddie wants it,” Craig said.
“That’s not something you can force on coaches. The technical, tactical side is about 10 per cent of it. The rest of it is relationships, a vision, making people feel valued, conflict management, facilitation, behavioural changes. It goes on and on.”
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