Bellamy bombshell: Furious coach considers early retirement
Furious Melbourne super coach Craig Bellamy is considering retiring at season's end following savage criticism over his coaching methods.
News Corp can reveal Bellamy is contemplating backflipping on plans to coach on at Melbourne next season in the wake of a media firestorm surrounding the Storm's history of wrestling tactics during his 18 years in charge.
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The Storm are closing in on the signature of Bellamy with the super coach poised to pledge his future to the Storm in a final hammer blow to Brisbane's hopes of luring him to the Broncos.
Breaking his silence on the contract saga, Storm CEO Justin Rodski is confident they will stave off a Brisbane poaching threat as Bellamy prepares to face his good mate Kevin Walters in Friday night's Broncos clash at AAMI Park.
But Bellamy's employment title at the Storm next season could change with the Melbourne mentor weighing up whether to walk away from head coaching when his contract expires at season's end.
Bellamy is said to be so gutted by claims his methods caused injury to rival players that he is considering aborting plans to coach on in 2022 and take up another role at the Storm.
Storm chairman Matt Tripp has offered Bellamy more time to make a definitive call on his future as the 62-year-old ponders whether head-coaching will expose his family to the type of fallout he has experienced in the past week.
Bellamy sought the counsel of Storm insiders over the weekend as he mulls over retirement.
Bellamy has consistently weathered criticism over Melbourne's defensive tactics since the emergence of the grapple tackle 15 years ago.
Brisbane chiefs held talks with Bellamy last August with a view to the veteran Storm coach coming on board from 2022 to preside over a cultural rebuild with new Broncos coach Walters, his former assistant at Melbourne.
But Brisbane's hopes of a Walters-Bellamy alliance at Red Hill are fast fading. The Courier-Mail understands retention talks have reached an advanced stage with Melbourne proposing a lifetime deal that would see Bellamy remain at the Storm until his 70th birthday.
Rodski stressed the Storm are in no rush and are affording Bellamy all the time he needs to make a definitive call, but Melbourne powerbrokers would be stunned if he quit to join the Broncos or his other suitor, the Sharks.
"We are certainly optimistic Craig will stay," Rodski said.
"He has been an incredible coach not just in the NRL but Australian sport for a long period of time.
"We're expecting a decision from Craig pretty soon. There's no rush from our end.
"Craig has had some things going on from a personal point of view that we have been very respectful of, but he has earnt the right to take his time to make that decision and when he does we look forward to making an announcement.
"His reputation, experience and success speaks for itself and we think he is at the top of his game.
"We are certainly really hopeful he remains at the Melbourne Storm for some time to come."
The Broncos are prepared to offer Bellamy a five or 10-year contract, but the Storm are equally open to a multifaceted arrangement.
Under Melbourne's plan, Bellamy would extend his tenure as head coach for another 12 months, before moving into a consultancy or coaching director's role for the next five years, by which time he would be 69.
Last week, Bellamy was leaning towards coaching in 2022, but the events of the past week could trigger a change of heart.
Former Broncos assistant Bellamy launched his NRL coaching career with Melbourne in 2003 and Rodski said the club would understand if he desired a new role.
"It's certainly an option for Craig to transition into another role with us," Rodski said.
"We would love him to keep coaching as long as he wants to keep coaching the team.
"We are also mindful that there will come a time where Craig wants to step back from the coaching role on a full-time basis.
"We would like to think in our discussions with Craig there is flexibility in the deal for him to do that at a time when he is ready to do that.
"We think Craig has a lot left to give the game and our club, he is making a significant contribution and we want him for a long time into the future.
"What he has been able to do for the Storm over such a long period of time, we understand a number of clubs would want to talk to him, but we're hopeful he will coach our club for a number of years to come and that's what we are working on with Craig.
"Whether he moves to Queensland, I don't know. He has lived (in Melbourne) for a long period of time and has grandkids in Melbourne, as well as family in Queensland, but he seems very content in Melbourne."
Originally published as Bellamy bombshell: Furious coach considers early retirement