NRL 2021: Craig Bellamy coaching future, Melbourne Storm, news, updates, Cronulla Sharks, Brisbane Broncos


A selfless Craig Bellamy has revealed he could walk away from coaching this season if he feels he is losing his passion for the role.

While Bellamy is yet to make a decision on whether he will continue coaching, Bellamy told The Daily Telegraph’s Dean Ritchie that he would hate to keep going if he was “half-interested”.

Bellamy said he would not want to be letting anyone else in the club down.

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Round 9

Hodgson’s captaincy up in the air

2:09

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Melbourne Storm reportedly set for official announcement on Craig Bellamy future


Craig Bellamy has reportedly accepted a contract extension with the Storm after knocking back offers from Cronulla and Brisbane.

It was revealed Wednesday night Bellamy has told Storm officials he will remain as coach through to the end of the 2022 NRL season before contemplating a potential move into an off-field role with the team.

The news was first reported on SEN’s Jimmy Smith Show where it was revealed Bellamy’s announcement will soon be followed by an announcement that gun fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen has agreed to a two-year contract extension, taking him through to the end of the 2024 NRL season.

The Sydney Morning Herald’s Adrian Proszenko told the show the 61-year-old made the decision to end the speculation surrounding his future for the sake of his players.

It was revealed this weekend that the Broncos had “given up” any hope of luring Bellamy to the club as a coaching director — and that a decision was imminent.

Bellamy reportedly had interest in moving to Brisbane to be closer to his grandchildren on the Gold Coast, but he has made the decision to stay in Melbourne.

Papenhuyzen’s decision is another reason Bellamy has decided to stay at the club with the Storm again appearing genuine premiership threats in 2021.

With Jahrome Hughes and Cameron Munster already signed on long-term deals, Papenhuyzen’s extension now means the club will turn its attention to extending the deal of star No. 9 Harry Grant.

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NRL 2021: Contracts, signings, transfers, Adam Reynolds, South Sydney Rabbitohs, Ryan Papenhuyzen, Melbourne Storm, Craig Bellamy


Adam Reynolds could learn as early as next Tuesday if he will remain a Rabbitoh or have to begin looking for a new club.

Reynolds is after a three-year deal but would stay put at South Sydney if a two-season extension is tabled.

South Sydney though have stuck solid with their one-year offer and The Australian’s Brent Read reported on Saturday that the next few days will be “crucial” in deciding Reynolds’ future.

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Round 4

Walker spotted dropping an ugly elbow

0:35

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‘Gutless’: Journo’s war of words with Bellamy


Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy has become embroiled in a war of words with NRL 360 co-host Paul Kent over Felise Kaufusi’s ugly incident against the Parramatta Eels.

During the round two clash at Bankwest Stadium on Thursday evening, Kaufusi dropped an elbow onto the head of Eels forward Ryan Matterson, who subsequently suffered a concussion.

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The Storm forward was put on report and copped a two-week suspension.

However, Kent argued Kaufusi should have been given a harsher sanction for the “gutless” move.

“I thought it was disgraceful, gutless and I thought the NRL showed no courage at all,” Kent said on Fox League’s NRL 360 on Tuesday.

“A two-week penalty for that? I think we have been talking for some years now about concussion and the safety of the player and the long-term damage caused by knockouts, and yet we see an incident like this. He doesn’t get sent off or ten in the sin bin.

“He gets a report and he gets a two-week penalty, and then you get the coach for saying there’s not much in it. It’s a cheap shot, and I don’t like cheap shots.

“It’s a deliberate head shot on Parramatta’s player and he doesn’t lose a minute for that. He should be sent off, and he should be looking at six to eight weeks.”

Matterson has an unfortunate history of concussion, and has been ruled out of Parramatta’s round three clash against the Cronulla Sharks.

When asked by reporters about Kent’s comments on Wednesday, Bellamy bluntly labelled the remarks as “ridiculous”.

“It all depends on what the situation and circumstance is,” Bellamy said.

“To say we should be using the sin bin more is silly. At the end of the day, you’ve got to take what the circumstance is or situation is, and referees are trained to do that.

“You don’t just want to be saying, ‘We need to use the sin bin more’, because that’s ridiculous.

“I think that’s ridiculous too, eight weeks. Hopefully (Kaufusi) will learn his lesson, and we’ll go from there.”

READ MORE: Mammoth $2.8m offer for Broncos gun

But Kent fired back on Wednesday evening, accusing the Melbourne coach of encouraging dangerous practices in the sport.

“Grapple tackle, chicken wing, rolling pin, hip drop, crusher, crocodile rolls, cannon balls, ankle twists — they are all tackles designed to make and injure players, all pioneered in Melbourne,” Kent said on NRL 360.

“The only constant in Melbourne since 2005 when all those tackles have been brought in and later banned in the game is the head coach Craig Bellamy.

“So I think the less advice we take from Craig Bellamy about the welfare of players the better — and you can go to town on that because you know what they are the ones that are doing it.

“The game is now producing rules to counter what Melbourne are trying to introduce. I’ve got no stock in it.

“Ryan Matterson has got a history of concussion. He was concussed in 2018 and couldn’t leave his house for eight weeks because of the dizzy spells and headaches.

“And here’s a bloke dropping an elbow on him the other night, please.”

Melbourne will take on the Penrith Panthers in a Grand Final rematch on Thursday evening, with kick-off scheduled for 8:05pm.

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NRL news 2021: Cameron Smith rumours are true, snubs mates, Criag Bellamy icy response, won’t return messages


More weight has been added to the claims Cameron Smith has gone MIA and is proving difficult to track down, even for those closest to him, as the extent of his indecision was revealed.

While the rugby league legend hasn’t officially announced his retirement, it seems extremely unlikely he’ll be playing again in 2021 as he settles into life on the Gold Coast after leaving Melbourne at the end of last year.

But the rumour mill has kept swirling about a minuscule chance he may lace up the boots for either the Titans or Broncos, if not now — he hasn’t taken part in any pre-season training, after all — or later in the year as a mid-season recruit given the June 30 transfer deadline has been scrapped and pushed back to August 1.

Round 1

On Tuesday, NRL commentator Andrew Voss called Smith’s vanishing act “bizarre” and said it was “sad” even close friends and former teammates haven’t been able to get in touch with the ex-Queensland and Kangaroos captain.

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Penrith Panthers prop Spencer Leniu passed on Craig Bellamy and Melbourne Storm


The Auckland-born Mt Druitt-raised Leniu, however, said his heart was always set on staying with his mates at Penrith. That was made clear to Bellamy and his staff as they quickly realised their best sales pitch would still fall short.

Leniu signed a two-year extension until the end of 2023, while Penrith bumped up his current deal for this season.

Spencer Leniu carts the ball up against Parramatta on Saturday.Credit:Getty Images

The Storm had one eye on the future, especially with Nelson Asofa-Solomona the only front-rower signed beyond 2022.

“I had a few Zoom chats with Melbourne, and knowing Melbourne were chasing someone like me was very humbling,” Leniu told the Herald. “It’s every young player’s dream to be coached by Craig Bellamy.

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“He didn’t need to sell me the Storm. The Storm sells itself. He liked my aggression. When we had a seven-a-side trial here against the Storm, that’s when he [started following me]. He said there was something they had liked after that trial.

“But I love Penrith and love [Panthers coach] Ivan [Cleary] and what he has done for my career so far. I wanted to stay loyal. My heart is with Penrith, and I wanted to follow my heart.”

Leniu suffered a knee injury in last year’s trials before he went on to play 12 games off the bench for the Panthers. He did not feature during the NRL finals.

Just 20 years of age with 17 NRL games under his belt, Leniu will play a lot more minutes this year, especially with the departures of fellow front-rowers James Tamou (Wests Tigers), Zane Tetevano (Leeds) and young Jack Hetherington (Bulldogs). He destroyed a few of his rivals in a reserve-grade trial against Mounties just a couple of weeks ago.

Plenty of good judges have noted Penrith are lacking one big body – they have modest money set aside for a middle forward to come on to the market in the coming months – but Leniu backed the current pack to hold their own.

“I don’t know what has been said about our forwards, I know we’ve lost some experience, but I also trust in the boys that are here and the coaches to make the right decisions when it comes to filling those massive shoes that need filling,” he said.

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Craig Bellamy as head of coaching could end in tears, says Neil Craig


But taking those skills to a new club, which already has a head coach, remains a delicate balance, warns Craig, who will be among the keynote speakers at the Australian Institute of Sport’s World Class to World’s Best conference this week.

Storm coach Craig Bellamy with Cameron Smith and Billy Slater.Credit:Getty Images

He said the driving factor must be because the head coach wanted a mentor like Bellamy in place, not because it would look like a recruiting win for the club or be a boost for corporate dollars.

“You would expect that clearly Craig, with his experience, would be able to go into an environment and be a great support to the head coach, if the head coach wants him; not because the board wants him, not because the supporter group wants him, not because the commercial department wants him because he’ll be fantastic to sell memberships.

“The head coach has to want him because if the head coach, deep down, doesn’t want him there, I can guarantee it will end in tears.

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“In my opinion, I think it’s a model that should be explored and a model that could be very powerful. It could be a real competitive advantage. But it requires a lot of conversation between the head coach and the guy that’s coming in as a mentor for that to have a functional trusting relationship.”

Craig lives that in his daily work with Jones and those at the top end of the English rugby high performance pyramid. He said a fraction of his work was dealing with technical aspects, like using AFL knowledge to help with high balls, but the most intriguing was his relationship with Jones, a job that doesn’t fit a specific description but one which Jones regards as invaluable.

“It’s a critical friend, it’s a mentor, it’s a listener, a challenger, a micro monitor. That only works, first and foremost, because Eddie wants it,” Craig said.

“That’s not something you can force on coaches. The technical, tactical side is about 10 per cent of it. The rest of it is relationships, a vision, making people feel valued, conflict management, facilitation, behavioural changes. It goes on and on.”

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Brisbane Broncos not blindsided by Cronulla Sharks’ interest in Craig Bellamy


That revelation hasn’t dampened the enthusiasm of officials at Red Hill, which will soon include incoming chief executive Dave Donaghy, the former Storm boss who will replace Paul White within weeks.

Kevin Walters has a big job to restore the Broncos to their former glory.Credit:Getty

Even with the ongoing drama around player behaviour and an unwanted first wooden spoon, the Broncos believe they still have the financial clout and stature to make Red Hill an attractive destination for Bellamy as a one-two punch with new head coach Kevin Walters.

The Storm are still in the equation, too, and want to keep Bellamy on in a consultancy capacity, which would allow him to return to Queensland to be closer to family while helping the Storm in a fly-in, fly-out role.

They would love him to simply continue as head coach but Bellamy spoke before the grand final of his fatigue in the role given its round-the-clock demands and the intensity he applies to it.

Bellamy has spoken of a desire to base himself on the Gold Coast but the Titans already have Mal Meninga in the kind of role Brisbane, Cronulla and the Storm envisage for Bellamy. At the very least, the Gold Coast have shown how effective a figurehead can be in the football department. Meninga was central to the club’s capture of Brisbane’s star edge forward David Fifita.

The option of another club in Brisbane has given Bellamy more food for thought. The Redcliffe Dolphins, who would likely trade as the Brisbane Dolphins, are favourites to be granted the next NRL licence.

The Dolphins have targeted Wayne Bennett as their inaugural coach, if he is available, but having an iconic figure like Bellamy on the books would be just as much of a boost – if not more – when building their first roster.

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Dolphins chairman Bob Jones said he had yet to make contact with Bellamy but that discussion was on his radar as the bidding process progresses.

“We haven’t spoken to Craig yet but we probably will when the time is right,” Jones said.

Given Redcliffe’s strong financial base, which even the Broncos acknowledge makes them the frontrunner as a local rival, they would be in a good position to offer Bellamy a deal that would set up his semi-retirement.

And Bellamy may enjoy the idea of working with a blank canvas, rather than trying to revive the fortunes of clubs like the Sharks or Broncos.

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NRL 2021: Craig Bellamy, Cronulla Sharks, Melbourne Storm, latest news


The Cronulla Sharks confirmed on Saturday there’d been “ongoing” discussions with Craig Bellamy over a potential Coaching Director role at the club.

The statement came shortly after News Corp revealed the two parties had been locked in “secret talks” for six months, with the Sharks tabling a four-year deal in an attempt to gazump the Melbourne Storm and Brisbane Broncos.

“We can confirm meetings have been ongoing between the Sharks, Craig Bellamy and his advisors, in relation to a potential Coaching Director role at our Club from 2022 onwards,” Sharks CEO Dino Mezzatesta said.

“Until there is more to report, the Sharks will be making no further comment.”

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Cronulla Sharks in shock play for Craig Bellamy


Bellamy told the Weekend Australian he was in no rush to make a call on his next move and the health of his wife Wendy was now his top priority.

‘We can confirm meetings have been ongoing between the Sharks, Craig Bellamy and his advisors.’

Dino Mezzatesta, Sharks CEO

“I haven’t even thought about it yet because of the situation we are in,” he said. “Until I can sit down with [Wendy] and talk about [my future] there will be no decision.

“I suppose people will want an answer, but it’s not a priority at the moment. It’s way down the list to be honest.”

According to The Sunday Telegraph on Saturday night, Bellamy and Cronulla had been in private talks for six months, with Bellamy saying: “There’s a Sydney club, but I can’t name them. They’ve done a really good job to keep it secret. I’ve been talking to them for as long as the Broncos offer has been there. It’s a serious option.”

Those close to Bellamy had no idea about the talks with Cronulla and only a select few at the Sharks knew about the audacious bid. Others were convinced Bellamy would simply not enjoy Sydney life.

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Bellamy won the 2012, 2017 and 2020 premierships along with the 2007 and 2009 grand finals, but the latter titles were stripped from the club. He missed out on the Canberra coaching job to Matt Elliott in 2002, about the same time there was interest from Wests Tigers, before he started at the Storm in 2003.

One coach whose name is continually linked to the Sharks is Sydney Roosters assistant Craig Fitzgibbon, a rookie head coach who would benefit from working alongside a professional like Bellamy.

Bellamy’s presence at Cronulla would make it easier for the club to attract players and sponsors. Current coach John Morris is off contract at the end of this season and, aged 40, would relish having Bellamy in his corner.

Morris made it known this week he was keen to stay on and was focused on trying to get the Sharks to a third straight NRL finals series. Morris has plenty of supporters. Recruit Cameron McInnes certainly wants the coach to remain at the helm, saying: “He knows what it is like to be a player and to be at the top level for so long so I am looking forward to working with him”.

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