Michael Maguire may have started his path to becoming an NRL coach under Craig Bellamy but he insists taking on Melbourne this weekend will be no more important than any other NRL game.
Maguire spent five years as one of Bellamy’s offsiders before a successful spell with English giants Wigan.
Their friendship will be put on hold for 80 minutes this Sunday at AAMI Park when the two sides face off.
Maguire is not the only member of the Rabbitohs camp with connections to the Storm.
Co-captains Michael Crocker and Matt King, as well as Greg Inglis, are all ex-Melbourne players and Souths’ high performance manager Troy Thomson is also a former Storm employee.
Maguire’s coaching philosophies are very much shared with Bellamy but their temperaments are poles apart.
The former NSW coach, known to everyone in the game as ‘Bellyache’, teed off in spectacular style against Canberra this week following accusations his side used wrestling-like moves to the head of opponents.
Wigan under Maguire also came under attack from coaches in the Super League who complained bitterly about the use of wrestling techniques by the Warriors.
But unlike Bellamy, Maguire kept his cool when under fire, with the 35-year-old’s coaching philosophy very much a case of actions speaking louder than words.
“I was aware that we were playing Melbourne and there’s a number of players from our team from there, and it has been spoken about,” said Maguire when asked if the game was the first he looked for when the draw was released.
“But we are all just really focused on making sure we are improving here at Souths.
“From the Charity Shield to the Roosters game it is all about looking forward to the next game.”
Conceding a try in the last 20 seconds to their bitter rivals at ANZ Stadium to go down 24-20 was not the ideal way for Maguire to start his career in the NRL.
However, he said there was enough positives from the display to give them confidence when they go up against the Storm.
“I think the way it hurt and how we felt in the changing rooms on Monday will have taught us a lot,” Maguire said.
“The work we have done in pre-season put us in great shape for the start of the season, and for 77 minutes we were the better side.
“Things are improving. We’ve leapt forward from where we were against the Dragons in the Charity Shield against the Roosters.
“And the signs are we can again this weekend.”