x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Storm set to deliver coach Bellamy birthday gift

Passionate about winning, the Melbourne Storm is never afraid to give his players a scolding should they need it.

Just like his footballing namesake, the Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy has a fiery nature. Passionate about winning, he is never afraid to give his players a scolding should they need it. But as he prepares for a fourth successive National Rugby League grand final appearance on Sunday against the Parramatta Eels, he is also content to be on the receiving end of some much-needed humour during tense times.

"Sometimes when I need lightening up, they'll lighten me up," he says. "Sometimes when they need a belt behind the ears, they'll get a belt behind the ears, so I think we keep a nice even balance between me and the playing group." With his 50th birthday tomorrow, a second final success would be a perfect present for a coach regarded the best of modern times. Bellamy has revived his side's fortunes after a disappointing start, scoring 148 points and just 26 against in the last four games. He added: "If someone said eight or 12 weeks ago we'd be in the grand final in 2009 I probably would have wrapped him up in a straight jacket and sent him off to the asylum.

"But we want to compete in every game, win every game." In England, Leeds face the Catalans Dragons tonight before St Helens host their rivals Wigan tomorrow for a place in Super League's grand final. For the Wigan coach Brian Noble, defeat is likely to mean the end of his three-year reign when his contract ends next month. A final success would be the ideal send-off.

akhan@thenational.ae