They helped ensure Craig Bellamy’s NSW coaching career ended in tears.
But now Queensland’s Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk only bring a smile to Bellamy’s face during State of Origin.
The veteran duo inspired top ranked Melbourne’s record 48-6 NRL win over Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.
Storm coach Bellamy revealed after Brisbane’s worst home loss he was not happy with the Melbourne pair’s form at the start of the year.
However, he claimed the Origin period had once again brought the best out of his stars.
“To be honest Cameron and Cooper were at the start of the season probably a bit down on the standards that they set, just a touch,” Bellamy said.
“I am not sure if I should say this but it seems when Origin comes around their form goes up.
“That’s music to the ears of Queenslanders obviously but not so much New South Welshman.
“But they have really stood up (for Melbourne), probably gone above and beyond what they should be doing for this team.”
Skipper Smith again led by example as halfback Cronk set up five of Melbourne’s eight tries.
It notched the Storm’s 10th win in 11 games against Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium – including six straight.
Not so long ago there were times when Bellamy was not so keen for Smith and Cronk to shine during the Origin period.
The pair helped seal Queensland’s 3-0 series whitewash in 2010, bringing an inglorious end to Bellamy’s three year stint as Blues coach.
These days Bellamy can joke about it judging by his reaction to Maroons captain Smith being asked about Queensland this year sealing their fifth whitewash, but first since 2010.
The Maroons will look to seal a 3-0 win in Origin III on July 13 in Sydney after already clinching their 10th series triumph in 11 years.
“We have had two opportunities to do it in my Origin career and done it once,” Smith said.
Bellamy interjected: “I think that was in my reign, too.
“It was. That might have been your last game,” Smith said.
“It was. That spoilt the night,” Bellamy said.