Bellamy honoured to coach 'icon of Australian sport' Smith
Craig Bellamy lauded Melbourne Storm great Cameron Smith as he became the first man to make 400 NRL appearances on Saturday.
Smith kicked 16 points in a 40-16 win over Cronulla Sharks, marking his milestone match in style after being given a guard of honour.
And Bellamy was keen to heap praise upon his most senior man at full-time.
"Not only is he an icon of our sport, he is an icon of Australian sport," the coach said. "He is the best player I have ever seen. I have never seen anyone match what he has done.
"For me to be his coach for 398 of his 400 games is quite surreal and sometimes I have got to pinch myself and realise how lucky I have been."
Smith, who claimed the NRL points record earlier this season, enjoyed the occasion but was keen to move on swiftly.
"Tonight was unlike anything else," he said. "It was almost like a finals game or State of Origin build up.
"It didn't feel like a normal mid-year game. I was really pleased we could go out and perform well."
Smith added: "It is a good feeling now it is done and particularly that we had a win.
"This has been looming for quite some time and it has been hanging around for a little bit.
"As great as the week has been and how memorable tonight is and will be forever, it is nice to now focus on our normal preparation and normal training with no more distractions other than making sure we train well and play well in our remaining games."
The Storm are top of the NRL ladder and have a six-point lead over South Sydney Rabbitohs.