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Bellamy reflects on Blues for 500 game milestone

As three-time premiership winning coach Craig Bellamy reaches his 500 NRL game milestone this week, he looks back on his time coaching the NSW Origin team with great fondness.

He’s the first to admit his three years at the helm of the Blues – 2008-2010 – didn’t result in his best match statistics for nine games in charge.

Even though he won his first game 18-10 in Sydney, Bellamy ended up with just two wins and seven losses (three of those were by six points or less).

In his defence he was up against Maroons royalty in Darren Lockyer, Jonathan Thurston, Greg Inglis, Billy Slater, Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk – the latter four players from his own NRL club, the Melbourne Storm.

“Queensland was at its peak – with a fair few of my team involved – but I don’t look at it as a negative experience,” Bellamy told nswrl.com.au.

“On the contrary I found it a very positive experience. I got to know a lot of really good people from other clubs – guys like Danny Buderus, Craig Fitzgibbon and Andrew Ryan stick out for me.

“With all that I learnt about coaching in Origin, it certainly didn’t do me any harm in my NRL world.”

Bellamy remembers the experience of trying to get combinations going during a short Origin preparation and applying some of his club-style structures to his NSW teams.

“I hadn’t been involved in Origin before so I reckon that was a disadvantage in understanding what it was all about,” he said.

“It was like another code. There are things I would do a lot different if I had my time over again, but it was what it was at the time.”

Having been in the middle of the Origin pressure-cooker, Bellamy admires the way current Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler has managed to get his players to excel.

“He’s done very well – actually he’s done more than really well,” Bellamy said.

“Freddy was a great Origin player in his day so knows exactly what works and what Origin is all about.

“Queensland will experience a bit of that this year with (new Maroons coach) Billy (Slater) I’m sure.”

Bellamy, at 63 years, is coming towards the end of his career as a full-time coach. He is looking at a mentoring role when he winds up at the Storm in the next year or so.

Asked if he would consider being involved once more with the Blues, he said: “I don’t think they’d ever want me again to be quite honest!

“Look probably not…. I think I’ve had my chance but it’s something I look back on with very fond memories.

“For me it wasn’t as bad as it looked.”

Acknowledgement of Country

New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.