Peter Sterling said that it was no coincidence that Melbourne had a nearly 20-year round one winning streak.
NRL legend Peter Sterling said that it was no coincidence the Melbourne Storm had sustained a nearly 20-year round one winning streak under coach Craig Bellamy.
“It shows he utilises the off-season better than anybody,” Sterling said on Nine’s Sports Sunday.
The Storm have not lost a round one game since 2001, when Chris Anderson was in charge. Since Bellamy arrived in 2003, they are a perfect 18-0 (they had a bye in round one, 2004).
“The thing about this record is that they have a record of not only winning the first game but winning the last game,” Sterling said, referencing the Storm’s premiership success.
“A lot of coaches actually bring their team through. They build through the year. Craig, he sets a standard from game one and they have an amazing ability to maintain that through the course of the year. There’s very little between their best and worst games.
“Craig Bellamy’s off-seasons are notably difficult, they go through mental and physical torture. That sets the standard.”
Former premiership winning captain Paul Gallen praised the Storm’s performance, but wasn’t sure they could go all the way without Cameron Smith.
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“He was the greatest player I’ve seen in my time, without a doubt,” he told the Today show.
“He will be greatly missed by the Melbourne Storm … they can be there at the back end of the year but without Cameron Smith, I’m not sure they can go back to back.
“When times are tough in a game he can steer you through those periods.”
Melbourne’s opening half an hour against the Rabbitohs was incredible, blowing their fellow title contenders off the park with a 22-point blitz.
“You contrast that to the Panthers and they started off with a good win yesterday, but they should have won by a lot more,” Sterling said.
“You feel like they’re content to just build into the season, don’t you?”
Sterling said it was a fascinating contrast between last year’s grand finalists, even though the Panthers ended up winning their game by a far bigger margin.
“Looking at Penrith who I actually think can win the competition this year, and last year will put them in good stead to do so, I thought they were patient,” he said.
“They should have led more than eight at half-time but they knew points would come. That is a sign of a side that know what they’re doing.
“Any coach and player will tell you it’s difficult to start a season flying and to keep start. Bart Cummings didn’t start the campaign with a Melbourne Cup run, you build up, get the miles in the legs.”