Craig Bellamy why he wanted Willie MasonThe difference between a good and a great coach was never more evident than earlier this week, when it came to light that Melbourne Storm clipboard king Craig Bellamy was interested in Willie Mason – at a time when most others were not.

Sitting over at the Roosters like an expensive Ferrari with missing keys, Willie Mason is not in the plans of incoming coach Brian Smith.Mason obviously takes up a big chunk of the salary cap for the Roosters and after a mediocre season in 2009 his value to the club was seemingly dropping faster with every passing moment.

But just like a bargain in any area of business, you need to look beyond the obvious to see the true value.This is where Craig Bellamy is an absolute talent, and competitors struggle to keep up with the one time Canberra Raiders utility player.

Bellamy could see that Willie Mason was unhappy in his environment and there were other influencing factors preventing the big forward from reaching his best consistently.Mason had only recently returned from major knee surgery, he was playing in a regularly beaten site and most of the time copping an unfair share of the flack for poor performances.

Sure, even Willie would admit some of his games were down on his usual game-breaking involvement – but he has proved many times before at multiple levels how good he is.Mason is a player with a Premiership win to his name, several NSW State of Origin appearances and even Australian representations.You don’t get to achieve all that if you’re no good.

And Bellamy was one of the few that understood this, the Storm coach knew about the headlines that came with Willie Mason – but again he looked past that. Mason is extremely direct and at times slips with the tongue, but a good majority of the News stories on these days are beatups and his influence in a team is strong, unlike his younger days when he didn’t have the focus or the experience.

When you consider all this, Mason could actually be a better player than he was at his peak of 2004/2005.This is why Craig Bellamy pushed his colleagues at the Storm so hard to purchase Willie Mason.To understand how good Bellamy is, you need to compare him with other coaches. For instance, look at Mason’s current coach Brian Smith.

Certainly a highly experienced, successful coach – but as yet, has not won a Rugby League Premiership.Smith has been more than good enough to survive in the cut-throat coaching business since way back in 1985.

Similar to Bellamy, Smith has an ability to cherry pick players others don’t want. So often, he picked up relative unknown players and made them consistent performers. Other times, Smith picked up discarded or veteran players and reinvented them.But where Bellamy exceeds the likes of Smith, is his ability to not only seek out the best players, but to combine the skills of discipline with emotional intelligence.Emotional intelligence is an ability to read and relate to others. (Along with understanding your own personality!)

Put simply, Bellamy is able to command respect and discipline, but at the same time can totally relate to his players. He rarely generates friction in relationships with players. This is something the likes of Brian Smith and many other coaches have struggled with.This is why the man they call ‘Bellyache’ is so good and why there is no doubt, he would have had Willie Mason function at peak performance in more than likely another year where the Storm challenge for the NRL Premiership.

By ricky

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