”HE IS hard, I am firm.”
Whilst Kearney played under Bellamy for the last two years of his career, and was his right-hand man for several years, but their hard-line approach is very different from the other.
”He has had a tremendous influence,” Kearney said.
”I spent five years with him in a fairly successful system, so I’d say I have taken a fair bit from that. But I am my own person, and I think there are some fair differences between myself and Craig in terms of personality.
”We are just different people, but the philosophy that he has is similar to mine, and I can remember when Craig first came to the Storm, the information that he gave to the team and the way he prepared, I really enjoyed that.
”I wish I had Craig when I first started out playing footy or during a period in the middle – not at the end of my career – because that was the way I assess the game in the sense of the information you are giving and from a preparation point of view. I found it easy to adapt and easy to bring one day when I was coaching.”
With Eels captain describing the pre-season as the toughest that he has ever dealt with, Kearney has told all players that if they are not willing to put in the hard yards, then they should leave now.
”I don’t think I am a hard-arse,” Kearney said.
”Personally, I think I am fair but firm. I have just set levels that I think the club has needed and the group has needed. We were very adamant about making sure that what we were as a team was tough and we were hard, and the only way to do that was to start that way.
”I remember when Craig first came to Melbourne, he was tough and hard, and again it was about setting certain standards with the group and with the culture that we wanted to build as a club. I guess, that’s where I got that from because I thought it was important to set certain standards right from the start.”
Despite losing players whether they went to other clubs, or retired, Kearney is focusing on what he has at his disposal, and refuses to dwell on the past.
”I am not going to dwell on what I don’t have,” Kearney said.
”My focus is on giving these guys that we do have every opportunity to perform as well as they can by giving them the right information, making the training hard and preparing them the way I think we’ve got to work. If we can do that and if we can have 17 guys come off the field after a game, and look in the mirror and say, ‘I gave it my best today,’ then we give ourselves a chance every weekend. Where that takes us, I can’t worry about that.
”I don’t have an expectation of where I want to finish on the competition ladder. My expectation of the group and our focus all summer is making sure that they put in their best effort, and if we do that collectively as a group, then I think we can have a certain sense of expectation about the performance. I just need them to go out there and do the job the best they can every time they get the opportunity, and make sure do the same when they prepare at training.”