Opposing fronts: Des Hasler and Craig Bellamy. Photo: Anthony Johnson
FOR Steve Turner, there are simple reasons why the coaches of this year's NRL grand finalists, Melbourne Storm's Craig Bellamy and Canterbury's Des Hasler, have been the best of recent years. Turner has experienced the ways of both men, having spent five seasons at Storm and the past three at the Bulldogs.
Both men are hard-nosed followers of discipline and hard work and keen students of advances in sports science and psychology as they look at finding any advantage for their teams.
''It's so hard to fault both of them. They're so similar in so many ways,'' Turner said. ''Their biggest philosophy is hard work and dedication and attention to detail with the little things and that's why I believe these coaches have been the best in our game the last five to six years.
''Obviously Craig has done wonderful things with the Storm and before Des joined us he had a wonderful coaching career there at Manly and obviously taking us to a grand final this year has been a great ride for the club.
''They're so good at their job and they pride themselves on success and pride themselves on doing the best for their clubs and achieving the best for themselves and I can't fault both gentlemen.
''I've been fortunate enough to be coached by both and something that I learnt from Craig when I first went there, if you want success and you want rewards in this game you've got to put in the hard work and that's something that I've certainly noticed that Des has brought to our club since he's been here.''
But Turner, whose season was ended earlier this year because of a knee injury, said one of the most significant traits that both coaches have was the care they showed for their players, who in turn have fierce loyalty to them.
''I remember when I first got to the Storm everyone was a little bit scared of Craig, but over time … you can have a genuine laugh and genuine conversation other than footy and that's what makes him a wonderful coach,'' Turner said.
''Likewise with Des when you're at training it's footy [and] I think Des does think a little bit more of footy but one thing I certainly know is that Des wants to make you a better person away from the game as well and he has done that this year with a number of young kids who have come through the system and it's a credit to both gentlemen because it's not always just about footy.
''If your life away from footy is balanced then your time at the club and when you are training is going to be good as well.''
■Storm football operations manager Frank Ponissi yesterday insisted that star full-back Billy Slater was ''100 per cent'' fit after he was ordered to miss a scheduled television appearance and sent to bed after complaining that he had been lacking energy following Thursday afternoon's training session.
Slater missed the team's appearance on The Footy Show, but Ponissi said Slater had simply been affected by a long day of commitments, which began with the NRL grand final breakfast before 7am and was not suffering any symptoms of influenza. He said Slater was feeling better ''after a good night's sleep''.
He also said the whole episode had not been a ruse by the Storm. He said Hasler was far too experienced to be caught out by such tricks.
While centre Will Chambers missed training on Tuesday he is also in no doubt, but winger Sisa Waqa will have to complete training today to prove he has overcome a knee complaint.