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Culture club: How Smith, Bellamy, sacrifice and trust set the Storm apart

Bill Belichick, the six times Super Bowl-winning coach of the NFL’s New England Patriots, once said of leadership: "It's like pornography – even if you can't define it, you know it when you see it."

Via Roy Masters/SMH.

Ditto for "football club culture".

"Culture" is relentlessly mentioned in the media, while rarely described in words. Yet, if you walk into a Melbourne Storm dressing room, watch their training sessions or attend a pre-season camp, you witness close up, across the group, this intangible mix of trust and the subjugation of ego.

Vision of Storm coach Craig Bellamy being ridiculed by his players as he attempted to change a tyre on his car, or the Panthers playing basketball in the corridor of a hotel hours before kick-off offer a glimpse of a relaxed, united team.

Club culture takes time to evolve, but can be quickly lost. All the youthful joy and companionship we see in today’s Panthers was probably evident last year, until the sex tapes scandal derailed their season.

The best expression of culture I witnessed at the Storm came this January at Geelong during a debrief of their 2019 campaign, which ended with defeat in the grand final qualifier to eventual premiers the Roosters. The coaches were struggling to find consensus on a unifying theme for the season until captain Cameron Smith addressed the group.

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