Player power convinces Bellamy to remain Storm coach

Melissa Woods |

Veteran Melbourne mentor Craig Bellamy will coach the Storm for at least another season.
Veteran Melbourne mentor Craig Bellamy will coach the Storm for at least another season.

Cameron Munster has become Melbourne’s go-to for keeping Craig Bellamy at the club, with a plea by the star five-eighth leading to the coach committing for a 23rd NRL season.

The Storm announced on Friday, on the eve of their top-of-the-table clash with Cronulla at AAMI Park, that Bellamy would remain in charge in 2025.

He signed a unique five-year contract with the Storm in 2022 that allows him to decide each year whether he will continue in the head coach position, or transition into a coaching director role.

“The main reason that I’m staying on is the people in the club at the moment, right from the top through to the players, coaching staff, we’ve got a whole heap of really good people here,” Bellamy said on Friday before training.

“I’m happy to still be here and really enjoying it … I’m enjoying working with the players. We’ve got a pretty talented group this year.”

Last year Munster went to Bellamy and talked him into staying on, and the coach said the playmaker – who last week marked 200 games with the club – had been at his door again.

Munster said he would have taken up a monster deal with the Dolphins if not for Bellamy being his coach.

“He came about two weeks ago, that was his usual visit, and a couple of the other senior players spoke to me as well,” 64-year-old Bellamy said.

“I wanted to make sure they were happy for me to stay on as well, as sometimes you wear a bit thin. 

“I’m getting to the older age bracket too, and some things these days that happen are a little bit modern for me, but they came in and encouraged me to go on, so that was a big part of making the decision.”

Cameron Munster and Craig Bellamy.
Cameron Munster (left) helped convince Craig Bellamy (right) to stay on as Melbourne Storm coach. (James Ross/AAP PHOTOS)

Bellamy initially said he would retire at the end of 2023, but in successive years has found a reason to continue.

With one of the best spines in the competition, the club continues to be a premiership force, and with seven wins from the opening eight games the Storm are on track for a remarkable 21st finals campaign on Bellamy’s watch.

Bellamy took on the senior coaching role with the Storm in 2003, leading the team to a semi-final in his first year. They have since won five grand finals and the minor premiership seven times.

“I sort of think, ‘What am I going to do if I’m not doing this?’. It’s just a really enjoyable place to be at the moment,” Bellamy said.

“We’ve brought some young guys in who have done a really good job for us.” 

Storm boss Justin Rodski said he believed Bellamy, with 558 Melbourne matches under his belt, remained the best coach in the game.

“He’s an absolute legend of the game and in our opinion the greatest coach, not just in the NRL now, but the greatest coach of all time,” Rodski said.

“We’re extremely excited across the club to have Craig on board for another year.”

AAP