Milestone men share incredible bond
From the moment Ryan Hoffman was born he crossed paths with Craig Bellamy.
His father Jay was a foundation player for the Canberra Raiders alongside Bellamy between 1982-1987.
17 years after playing alongside Hoffman senior, Bellamy would be coaching his son Ryan when both player and coach arrived in Melbourne for their debut season in 2003.
After 11 Finals Series, four Grand Finals and three Premierships together it seems only fitting the pair would share a milestone weekend together.
Bellamy will coach his 400th NRL game, becoming just the seventh in history to achieve the feat while Hoffman will become only the fifth player to pull on the purple jersey for the 250th time.
The stood side by side one another on Wednesday as two of the game’s most humble men fielded questions about their achievements.
Naturally, they reverted to speaking of their incredible admiration for the man alongside them.
“I’m sitting up in the coaches box drinking water and eating lollies while he’s out there getting bashed for 250 games for our Club,” Bellamy said.
“We are really glad and proud that he has come back to finish his career where it all started…I was really happy when he came back and decided to finish his career here.
“He has been a really important player for us for so long and I played with his Dad at Canberra so I’ve known him since he was born.
“He was a top kid, always a respectful kid growing up as you would expect under Jenny and Jay. He has done a wonderful job for our footy Club.”
Hoffman was equally grateful for where his mentor has helped him get to today, not only as a player but as a human being.
“When I first got signed by Melbourne I remember my Dad saying, ‘Geez, you’re going to work hard,” Hoffman recalled.
“That hasn’t changed, working hard and being relentless in that hard work. Good things come to people who work hard, that has been the main philosophy.
“Craig has been the coach that has made me into the player that I wanted to become.
“When you come to a Club as an 18-year-old, you are straight out of school and have a lot of growing up to do. Certainly those formative years for me as a person and as a rugby league player, Craig played a massive part in.
“It has certainly helped me become the player and person I am today, through those values he instilled in all of us when we first started and working hard was the main one.”