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Maxwell: NRL supercoach would be outstanding in AFL


Nick Maxwell, the former Collingwood premiership captain who has spent the past three years working with NRL powerhouse Melbourne Storm, believes the Storm's super coach, Craig Bellamy, could transfer his talents to an AFL club.

Maxwell, who has been the Storm's leadership development coach since 2014, said Bellamy's unique set of leadership skills and ability to galvanise a group of young men would enable him to take on a role, perhaps as a coaches' mentor, at any AFL club.

"In some capacity, Craig would be a huge asset to an AFL team," Maxwell told ESPN. "In a role involving leadership, communication and motivation, he would be outstanding. I could certainly see him working with a club as a senior advisor, meeting with coaches individually, offering advice on coaching techniques."

The former Pies skipper said he never ceased to be amazed by Bellamy's coaching abilities, which were not necessarily a God-given talent but the result of hours and hours of hard work and meticulous preparation.

"Craig and football director Frank Ponissi are the best 1-2 combination in the country -- in any sport -- in my eyes," Maxwell told ESPN.

"They are very specific about who they bring into the organisation, be it a coach, a trainer or a player. While many think the club has a 'no dickheads' policy with the players, this extends to coaches and staff. The wrong staff member can compromise the program, as well as put unwanted pressure on other staff, ultimately effecting the environment, and worst of all, the players.

"In terms of Craig's character, he expects every person in the organisation to have a high work ethic, as everyone witnesses every day from him. He is the first in the building every morning and often the last to leave. He doesn't have time for anyone not displaying a similar work ethic or desire to improve every day, nor does he have time to go around patting people on the back for doing your job. That is expected, and if you aren't - be it on or off the field - you'll know about it.

"The amount of hours he spends watching opposition teams, cutting clips and taking notes is, from my experiences, unrivalled in any team across any league.

"He'll go back and cut the upcoming oppositions previous few games, as well as past games against the Storm, and games where they have played their best. He also expects this of his other coaches.

"I'll often be sitting in a preview meeting and hear him say, 'I've only seen them run this play once in the past four weeks but they may run it so be aware of this, this and this'. Many players who join the Storm from other clubs are blown away by the video analysis and the detail expressed in every clip."

Maxwell said people who visited the club and spent time looking for the Storm's 'secrets' often left no wiser than when they arrived. "They think there's a formula or a magic wand they can take back to their clubs and introduce. Many leave disappointed," he said.

"This comes down to Craig and Frank. They know that every single 'one percenter' adds up to make the difference. This includes where the bus is parked at an interstate training session to ensure the players can get in and out, the effectiveness of how a player tackles on their left versus right side, and who is carpooling with whom to ensure a smooth ride in and out of the airport. While these things may seem pedantic, they all add up to ensuring the players have the best possible opportunity to succeed."

Maxwell said he and Bellamy often compared notes about the two codes which, despite the obvious tactical differences, had some common ground.

"In terms of the two games -- NRL and AFL -- they are so very different that being a master of both is impossible. Craig will often ask me about observations of AFL and why something is done the way it is, while I continue to ask he and senior assistant coach about why we [at the Storm] can't do A, B or C from my observations.

"The tactics for both games are so very different. I believe in AFL you can make a lot more mistakes and not be hurt by them. As an example if an AFL team has a kicking efficiency of below mid 60 percent, it is hard to win. In NRL, if your completion rate (getting to the last tackle in your set) is below 80 percent, you start to jeopardise your chances of winning significantly."

The Pies' 2010 premiership skipper acknowledged that Bellamy, whose Storm team steamrolled their way to the NRL pennant this year, could pick and choose whichever job he wanted in the NRL, so the notion of him joining an AFL franchise was a purely theoretical one.

"Why would he want to leave League to go to AFL? He is still at the very top of his game, will no doubt go down as arguably the greatest coach in the history of the game, and will be wanted in an NRL coaching capacity for as long as he wants to coach," Maxwell told ESPN.

"At some stage in the future, Craig's NRL coaching capacity will come to an end; for Storm fans, and the game itself, I hope this is many years from now.

"But when it happens, I'm sure there will be plenty of offers -- not only to coach, but to mentor other coaches, help with leadership, and also the pull of the corporate world." Maxwell, 34, was announced last month as Collingwood's newly created 'leadership and culture manager', returning to the club where he played 208 games, 103 of them as captain. But he will divide his time between the Pies and the Storm, a task made easier by the fact the two clubs are only 200 metres apart on Olympic Boulevard.

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