Michael Burgess is the football and rugby league writer for the Herald on Sunday.

NRL: Ace coach feels Warriors pain

Craig Bellamy. Photo / AP
Craig Bellamy. Photo / AP

Craig Bellamy has never experienced an extended losing streak as a coach but the Melbourne Storm mentor can relate to what the Warriors are going through.

The Storm have lost four straight games in a season only once since Bellamy took over as head coach in 2003. That was last year, when Melbourne failed against the Eels, Broncos, Bulldogs and Warriors.

It captured headlines due to its rarity, but in the context of the NRL it hardly qualifies as a streak.

Yet, as a player, Bellamy was involved in one of the worst seasons of the modern era, when his team lost 85 per cent of their matches.

It was 1982, and Bellamy was part of the Canberra Raiders, who had just entered the Winfield Cup, the first team from outside New South Wales to be admitted to the premiership. It wasn't pretty.

"I think there were 26 games that year and we won four," said Bellamy, "so you can imagine how tough that was."

The Raiders lost their first seven matches, including a 54-3 hiding by Parramatta and a 33-4 hammering by Souths before a 12-11 win over Newtown, after the Jets goalkicker missed a conversion from in front on the final play.

The Don Furner-coached team then endured another seven games of woe, with more heavy losses (45-0 to Illawarra, 44-5 to Cronulla and 55-13 to Eastern Suburbs).

The team, which also included Jay Hoffman (father of Ryan) and future grand final winner Chris O'Sullivan, stopped the rot with a victory over the Rabbitohs in round 15, but would win only two more games that season. They finished bottom, conceding 862 points at an average of more than 33 a game -- in the era of three-point tries.

Bellamy doesn't deny it was a testing time but says the character of the team stayed strong.

"At the time, it was tough going but the guys got on really well. We trained really hard and that set a really good platform for the club.

"That was always the thing that stood out for me. You are going to go through tough times but you don't let your standards drop with your preparation and your training, then you will come out the other end."

That could be a salutary lesson for the Warriors, who claim that "inside the walls" they are making progress, despite a winless streak stretching back to July.

"All we can focus on is what we are doing on the training field," said Warriors playmaker Shaun Johnson.

"I know we are not far off from it clicking for us. We are heading in the right direction and I don't believe it is too far off."

- Herald on Sunday

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