Apprentice turns master as Seibold sets sights on old mentor Bellamy

Many see Friday night’s top-of-the-table meeting at ANZ Stadium as a grand final preview.

Seibold goes head to head with his former master Craig Bellamy, who is in his 16th year as head coach in the NRL.

Seibold and Bellamy first crossed paths in Canberra more than 20 years ago when he was a player and the latter an assistant coach to Mal Meninga.

The Souths coach then spent three years working under Bellamy in Melbourne between 2013 and 2015, with the lessons learned helping him mould his coaching style today.

“What I took away from ‘Bellyache’ was how hard he worked and how thorough he was in his preparation,” Seibold said.

“They are certainly qualities and traits I’ve tried to replicate in my own coaching. He’s a very good person. I was blessed to spend time with him and [Storm football manager] Frank Ponissi.

“He reached out to me when I got the job here and again before round one when we were in Perth. But we’re opponents now and I need to focus on what we’re doing here.

“I haven’t just dipped the toe in the water at the Rabbitohs, I’ve dived all the way in. All my focus is on the job here.”

Seibold, 43, is much calmer than Bellamy. He is yet to destroy any equipment in the coach’s box or be caught by television cameras frothing at the mouth and pacing up and down after a dud call during a game.

Souths players will tell you when he’s angry Seibold doesn’t raise his voice but becomes brutally honest.

He is regarded as a brilliant communicator and ensures every players knows where he stands, whether they are playing or carrying the drinks.

The specks of grey in his hair have remained just that.

While Seibold feels the season has flown, the Rabbitohs’ shaky start caught him off guard.

“We had a very good preparation in the pre-season, and to come out and lose three of our first five games, we were hoping to jump out of the blocks well after what we saw in the pre-season,” Seibold said.

“We weren’t a million miles away either. Two of those losses were by four points.

“But that was tricky. We’ve been consistent for a long period of time and our record shows we’ve been consistent.

“The one area I think we can still improve is building pressure on opposition teams.”

Games don’t come any tougher than against Melbourne – particularly when their evergreen captain Cameron Smith is involved – but Seibold has a handy pack as well as a talented No.9 of his own in Damien Cook.

“Cooky and Cam are very different players and with Cooky his improvement has been enormous,” Seibold said.

“Nobody expected him to be the [NSW State of] Origin hooker at the start of the year but his improvement from day one of pre-season training to now has been very dramatic.

“[As for Smith] we diligently watch the last three games of the clubs we come up against and Cam has been outstanding. He looks as good as ever.”

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