Geelong legend Joel Selwood has opened up on why his post-retirement career has somewhat surprisingly led him to cross codes into the NRL and become a leadership coach at the Melbourne Storm.
“It’s an organisation I’ve looked up to and watched on in envy with the work they’ve done over the 25-year history that they’ve had,” he told SEN.
Joel Selwood ready to help usher in new leaders at the Storm
The Storm have had a long history of strong leadership running through the veins of the club, from head coach Craig Bellamy to the legendary figures of Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater.
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New Zealand skipper Jesse Bromwich had taken on the mantle after the famous trio departed but he has also now left to link up with Wayne Bennett at the Dolphins.
Along with Bromwich and his younger brother Kenny, Felise Kaufusi has also moved on, leaving the club devoid of a host of leaders they previously were able to rely on.
“I’m just going to work with their leaders that are coming through, they’ve obviously lost a handful of players to the Dolphins and now it’s time for this next group of leaders to come through,” Selwood explained.
“It was pretty appealing to me with the ages of these guys and the position that they were in as a club to join them and see how we go.
“I’m still getting to know the boys and obviously culturally they’re a really strong club and I’m looking forward to joining in on that.”
Bellamy’s troops had a disappointing season by their lofty standards, finishing outside the top four for the first time in eight years before being bundled out of the finals at home to Canberra.
“They didn’t finish where they wanted to last year and with their exit in finals, so they just want to be a stronger club and take those steps forward,” Selwood said.
AFL and NRL clubs continue to form alliances away from the pitch
The four-time premiership-winning Geelong star, who holds the AFL record for most games served as a captain, will be expected to impart his knowledge onto the Storm playing group as they eye an improvement in 2023.
“At the end of the day, you’ve got to do the simple things really well and make them really good habits too,” he said.
“If you can do that, more than likely there’s going to be more mistakes made in those hectic environments, so it’s about making less mistakes than the other side.”
Upon Selwood announcing his retirement after clinching another flag last year, Cats teammate Patrick Dangerfield highlighted his vast impact on the club.
“He is a close friend, and a mentor, but it’s difficult to articulate what it means to play alongside Joel, you just walk taller because he gives you so much confidence,” Dangerfield said.
“So much of our success as a club over the last 10 years is because of him.
“If we all aimed to have a little bit of Joel in each of us the world would be a better place.”
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Selwood won’t be the first AFL skipper the Storm have recruited, having had Collingwood captain Nick Maxwell serve in the role for six years prior.
However, it’s not just a one-way street with Storm legend Slater actually serving in a leadership and development role at St Kilda after retiring in 2019, before he went on to take the Maroons job.
Selwood’s employment on Melbourne’s coaching staff may have come as a surprise to many, but it is just actually continuing a growing trend in the country of a close alliance being formed between NRL and AFL clubs.
South Sydney coach Jason Demetriou revealed earlier this week that he had taken a small group of his players down to train with Richmond.
“There was some real good affirmation about some of the things we do,” he said.
“They’re a bit similar to us in having some key changes in personnel over the last few years…so it was good to get a few of the senior boys together and spend a few days outside of our comfort zone.
“They’re very different games in terms of how they prepare, so it was more around respecting what they do and how they do it, but also on the mental side of how they come together and drive things day-to-day that makes them successful.”