Craig Bellamy on growing up in the Central West

Nick McGrath - Western Advocate

Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy still claims to be a Portland boy.

He was born there, grew up there and his mother, sister and a lot of his uncles and cousins still live in the tiny mid-west town, or "home" as Bellamy puts it.

The former Canberra Raiders gun played his junior footy with the Colts, too, and then when it came time to take his rugby league a little more seriously he cut his teeth in the senior ranks up the mountain, linking with the Oberon Tigers in Group 10.

Portland and Oberon; two small towns, but two hugely industrious areas. 

And it's that blue collar work ethic ingrained in both centres that helped mould Bellamy from Tigers outside back into arguably the greatest coach the game has seen.

"The best thing I learned as a young guy growing up is if you want something you have to work hard for it," Bellamy said looking back at his time in the Central West.

"That was the thing around Portland and it's kept me in good stead as I've gotten older."

Bellamy was at Oberon when the Tigers' first grade side won the 1975 Group 10 premiership - that 17-4 win over Ex-Services was the last time the black and golds have tasted top grade success in Group 10 - and made the trip back to Oberon to help the club celebrate the 40th anniversary of that title triumph in 2015.

"But I haven't been to Bathurst for a little while," he concedes ahead of the Storm's clash with the Penrith Panthers at Carrington Park on Saturday night.

"It's always nice to come back home, or close to home.

"Things have changed for a me a bit though. I don't think I've actually seen Carrington Park before. It was the Bathurst Sportsground when I played here."

Bellamy won't get a good look at Carrington Park until game day, either, with Penrith the only side allowed to use the ground to train on in the lead-up to the round three NRL clash.

Not that it worries Bellamy though, he sees the bigger picture. 

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