Sitting in the coach’s box on debut at Cronulla back in 2003, Craig Bellamy didn’t think he would last 350 NRL games at the Melbourne Storm helm.
In fact, Bellamy didn’t think he would last one NRL game.
“I remember my first game against Cronulla at Shark Park and after 20 minutes we were down 22-0,” Bellamy said.
“I expected at halftime (Storm CEO) John Ribot to have a one-way ticket back to Brisbane for me.
“No, I never imagined I would be in Melbourne for 14 seasons doing the one job.”
Fast forward 13 years and Bellamy’s grip on the Melbourne reins is as firm as ever after marking game No.350 with a 38-0 thrashing of the Titans on the Gold Coast on Sunday.
It took his remarkable win-loss tally to 232-116 with just two draws.
In that time he has guided Melbourne to five grand finals including four straight from 2006.
He is only credited with the 2012 premiership after the NRL stripped Melbourne of their titles in 2007 and 2009 due to salary cap breaches.
Under Bellamy, Melbourne has only missed the finals once – in 2010.
The usually intense Bellamy allowed himself a rare moment of reflection after being reminded of his milestone following their convincing win which featured seven unanswered tries.
“We’ve had our ups and downs,” Bellamy said.
“But I have been very blessed to be at a wonderful club.
“Especially with these guys who have been with me long term – I know I am getting soppy here but it’s a pretty special bond to be honest.”
Unearthing some of the game’s greatest players – Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk – has not hurt Bellamy’s longevity at Melbourne.
But skipper Smith made it clear who should be credited for the Storm’s success.
“First and foremost he makes sure you are okay as a person – football is always second,” he said.
“That’s a wonderful trait.
“He knows if everything is going right away from football than you can almost guarantee things will go right on game day.
“I think 350 games is a wonderful achievement.”
A modest Bellamy quickly added: “It also helps if you have a lot of good players”.