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How Trent Robinson and Craig Bellamy have defied the NRL's coaching odds

By AAP
(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
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In the weird way that possibly only rugby league can, the NRL’s draw has pitted the game’s two longest-serving current coaches against each other in the week two of their contemporaries lost their jobs.

Trent Robinson’s Sydney Roosters host Craig Bellamy’s Melbourne Storm at the SCG on Saturday in the aftermath of Michael Maguire’s sacking at the Wests Tigers and Nathan Brown’s exit from the Warriors on Tuesday.

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Bellamy has coached north of 500 Melbourne games since he took the Storm role in 2003.

It was the same year in which Brown landed his first coaching gig but while Brown has had four further jobs since, Bellamy has been backed by his club and rewarded with success over a sustained period of time.

With Trent Barrett having left Canterbury earlier this year, however, Bellamy claimed the urgency in which clubs hire and fire has never been more common than the present day.

“I don’t think in any professional sport any coaching job is really safe these days,” he said.

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“It seems to be when things go wrong (people say) ‘let’s get rid of them (coaches)’.

“I really feel for Brownie and Madge, they’re both really good guys. It can be a cruel job at times.”

Bellamy has only ever known one club as a head coach and it wasn’t until 2006 that the Storm reached their first grand final under his watch.

The 62-year-old’s success has earned him a contract that ends when he decides he has had enough.

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It’s clear to see why. Bellamy boasts three premierships, five minor premierships and three World Club Challenges, and the list of players turned from middling first-graders into valuable commodities is endless.

Robinson, meanwhile, is now in his ninth season as Roosters coach and has three premierships to his name.

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He built his resume at the Catalans Dragons where he coached against Maguire and Brown and said the thrill of success was one of the big drivers.

“The beauty of our job is everyone has an opinion on what you should or shouldn’t do,” Robinson said.

“That’s why we’re in the entertainment business and we enjoy it, but it’s also a tough gig.”

Even in 2016 when the Roosters were decimated by injury and they finished 15th, chairman Nick Politis stood by him.

It’s a move which paid dividends, with the Roosters winning consecutive premierships in 2018 and 2019.

“When you get started all you want to do is win the next game and try to keep your head above water and get some wins,” he said.

“The vision has to be clear for all parties – the board, the chief executive, coaches or players.

“When that (vision) is aligned, you can ride the peaks and troughs, but you’ve got to have more peaks and troughs to stay in the business.”

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