There’s much more to Craig Bellamy than the ‘angry old man’ vision of him yelling and pointing out instructions from the coach’s box.
As lovable and amusing as many in rugby league find those rants, it’s so easy to forget the real person under the club polo shirt.
And this season, perhaps more than any other in his 18 at the Storm, Bellamy has had to dig deeper into his reserves of patience and perseverance.
Yes, his load has been similar to other head coaches in a very weird 2020 NRL season.
He has tried to keep all his players, coaching and football staff together and united and unswerving in their goals, while all around them the pressures and protocols of a world pandemic have been relentless.
But Bellamy is a father, a husband, a confidante as well as a NRL head coach.
And with the Storm quarantined in Queensland more than 2000km from their Melbourne homes, their own beds, possessions, and familiarities, there have been added pressures.
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True, many players had their partners and families travel with them to the Twin Waters resort at Maroochydore.
But Bellamy’s wife Wendy could not. She remained in Melbourne to deal with a health issue, that needed some surgery.
Without penetrating too deep into her privacy, the operation went ahead.
“I thought I was going to have leave camp… go down there, isolate, be with her, come back here, isolate,” Bellamy told NRL.com, “So it would have been five or six weeks out of the season.
“I have to give a big rap to my [Queensland-based] daughter Rachel who put up her hand to go down. She had to take a month off work to go to Melbourne into quarantine to help my wife.
“Rachel is really the hero in this story as she gave up quite a bit.”
Bellamy said he would personally like to thank the youth mental health organisation LIVIN, which employs Rachel, for giving her time off to help her mum.
Rachel and Wendy returned to Queensland – Rachel to her LIVIN work, and Wendy to the Storm bubble – but both had to quarantine 14 days to do so.
Then further visits to a specialist were needed ahead of a second follow-up procedure. That will require Wendy to come out of quarantine, before going back into quarantine a second time in Queensland. Who knows what Victoria will require when the Bellamys can finally return home.
“There’s a lot of people doing things pretty tough this year but it was hard for me because I probably should have been the one to be home and help,” he said.
“What Wendy was going through was hard. When I first heard about it we [the Storm] were actually having a meeting just before training and [football manager] Frank [Ponissi] came and tapped me on the shoulder to lead me away.
“He told me that an ambulance had to be called to get Wendy to hospital. That was obviously a shock but a couple of people in Melbourne really helped out until Rachel could get there.”
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So there have been plenty of distractions for Craig and his family. His son Aaron is a development coach at the Storm, and also had concerns over his mother’s health while having to do his weekly duties in the Sunshine Coast bubble and at games.
Shedding some light on all this is by no means meant to pull the sympathy card for Bellamy and the Storm in this Sunday’s NRL grand final.
But it’s meant to show that all is not what it seems, when it comes to a coach trying to win a premiership, help his players develop and cope, and look after his family when they need him too.
Getting his team to another grand final – his ninth with the Storm – says he’s already succeeded when the going got a bit rough.
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