Fresh off a seven-point loss in a thriller against the Penrith Panthers, Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy has made a surprising admission about his future, with two more seasons left in the game.
He said he’s “not sure what to make of that performance” but in a 10 minute presser, Bellamy responded to claims he’s been discussing a move to the Canterbury Bulldogs starting next year.
Kayo is your ticket to the 2020 NRL Telstra Premiership. Every game of every round Live & On-Demand with no-ad breaks during play. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >
The Daily Telegraph reported that the side were preparing to offer Bellamy a two or three-year deal followed by a transition plan to bring in a new coach with sponsors seeking to add a $1 million sweetener outside current agreements to lure the legendary mentor with a $1.2 million to $1.4 million contract.
The report said the Bulldogs and Bellamy had spoken but the club was quick to issue a denial.
“I think it is important for our Members and fans that we end any speculation around Craig Bellamy having been contacted by the Bulldogs,” Canterbury CEO Andrew Hill said in the statement. “When spoken to last night I confirmed to media that there had been no contact made.”
Asked about his reaction to the Bulldogs pursuit, Bellamy said he hadn’t spoken to anyone from Canterbury or even read the story.
“I haven’t had a call off anyone,” Bellamy said. “I haven’t read the story, I don’t want to read the story because what’s in there isn’t true because someone told me it said I’d spoken to the Bulldogs twice. Well, I haven’t spoken to anyone from the Bulldogs and I can’t wipe that out and say ‘the manager did’. I haven’t got a manager now so at the end of the day, that’s not an issue either so I can honestly sit here and say that I haven’t spoken to the Bulldogs and I think they’ve said the same.
“At the end of the day, that’s our game these days, anything can get written and no one is accountable for it. But at the end of the day, if they want to write that, they can write whatever they like which is obviously what they do.
“But Dean Pay’s a friend of mine and I don’t think that’s fair on Dean. At the end of the day he’s gone into a tough job there and he’s doing a pretty good job. For a friend of his — and he was at our club, he started his coaching career with our club so he’s very well thought of at the Storm — to put that sort of pressure on him when it’s not true, that’s the wrong part of it. At the end of the day it’s no skin off my nose but it’s not fair on Dean at all.”
Bellamy is the most successful coach of the modern era with an incredible 68 per cent win percentage over more than 450 games with the Melbourne Storm and has been linked with many different clubs over the years.
Having joined the Storm in 2003 after being Wayne Bennett’s understudy at the Brisbane Broncos, Bellamy has never had a losing season in the NRL, having won more than half the games every year in the past 18 alongside the ageless Cameron Smith.
But with Smith turning 37 this week, and while he’s still one of the best players in the league, there has long been speculation over when Smith would hang up the boots, as the only player with more than 400 first grade games.
While Bellamy has worked with Smith his entire tenure at the Storm, the legendary coach has suggested he may only have this season and one more to go in his coaching career.
“I’ve got a contract for next year with the Storm and I’m probably not going to say what I’m going to do because I don’t really know to be quite honest,” Bellamy said. “But I’m 62 this year so next year will probably be it for head coaching without a doubt. Having said that, things change at times and I think I’ve said that before but it’s a young man’s game these days. I’m certainly still enjoying it but it might be time for someone else after next year. But as I said, we’ll see so don’t hold me to that.”
It’s not the first time Bellamy has mentioned that 2021 may be the end of his coaching tenure, admitting on Sky Sports Radio in December that “there’s probably a couple of other things I’m thinking I might like doing in a couple of years’ time”.