Craig Bellamy has confirmed he will weigh up Melbourne Storm’s contract offer on its own merit without considering the Broncos’ freshly unveiled interest.
It emerged on Tuesday that the 58-year-old, whose existing contract expires at the end of the year, had talked with Brisbane about taking over from Wayne Bennett in 2020.
All parties involved have denied a Broncos contract is on the table and Bellamy says he will begin to settle his plans from next week.
“I haven’t been made an offer from Brisbane,” he told reporters on Wednesday.
“I sat down and had a chat with (Broncos CEO) Paul White and that’s basically as far as it went.
“At the moment I have got an offer on the table from the Storm and it has been there for a couple of weeks but I suppose (with) our hectic programs – short turnaround, fair bit of travel – I probably haven’t had the time to sit down and give it the time I need to make a decision.”
Melbourne’s three-year extension is believed to be worth nearly $4 million.
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Bellamy would likely sit out the 2019 season if he chose to leave the Victorian club and link up with Brisbane for a second time in his career, with his former boss Bennett already under contract for next year.
“I’ve never had a year off,” he said.
“You could look at it in two ways. It could be refreshing and you go and have a look at a few other organisations and pick up some things. We usually do that for two weeks at the end of the year.
“To be able to go into that a little more deeper than what we have at the end of the season. But having said that, having a year off, sometimes the game evolves very quickly and sometimes you might lose a little bit of touch as well.”
He has not spoken to clubs other than the Storm and Broncos and expects to talk to Bennett ‘at some stage’.
“The last thing that I’d want to be is disrespectful to Wayne, especially this weekend,” Bellamy said.
“He’s coaching his 800th game. That’s unbelievable, that’s one hell of a record.
“Before I had my chat (with White), I was assured Wayne knew about the chat. I’m sure me and Wayne will catch up at some stage and have a bit of a chat about things.”
Four years ago when he re-signed with Melbourne, Bellamy said he expected to retire from coaching at the end of 2018.
But he is unsure where he stands at the moment after nearly two decades of highly successful coaching.
“I don’t think about unfinished business,” Bellamy said.
“I’ve been here 16 years, I’ve had some wonderful times, we’ve had some tough times, but that’s the same in any footy club.
“At the end of the day when I sit down and give it a good thought, it’ll be what I think is best for me, best for the family and best for the footy club, too.
“I’ve been here a long time and it’s like a family within itself. There’s a lot of things to think about, a whole heap of things to think about, hopefully next week or two I can give it that time it needs to decide exactly what I want to do.”
EARLIER: Melbourne chief executive Dave Donaghy confirmed the club would not give Bellamy a one-year deal if he’s going to leave for NRL rivals Brisbane afterwards.
Brisbane have approached Bellamy about joining their club on a four-year, $5 million deal to replace Wayne Bennett, who is contracted till the end of 2019.
Bellamy, who comes off contract at Melbourne this season, is considering a three-year offer to stay with the defending premiers.
Donaghy told SEN radio the Storm wouldn’t consider retaining him for just one year to fill the gap before he headed to the Broncos in 2020.
Donaghy made it clear that if Bellamy didn’t want the three-year deal they would look elsewhere for a coach who did.
“We’re not in the business of short-term planning,” Donaghy said.
“We’ve made a three-year offer to our coach and that was off the back of a discussion with the coach.
“There’s lot of confidence in our football club in terms of what we offer and we’re not in the business of being someone else’s feeder team.”
Donaghy said the Storm had given Bellamy a “significant” three-year offer – believed to be worth more per year than Brisbane’s proposal – around a month ago and the deal had no time constraints.
He said that despite the big Broncos offer, he was “still optimistic” it would be accepted.
“He knows how we feel about him,” Donaghy said.
“It goes without saying he’s the best coach in the game and I think the offer reflects that and we’d like to see him stay, so he’s got a decision to make.
“For us it’s a confidence thing. We’re a confident organisation; we’re confident with what we do the structure, system, and environment and the people and Craig leads those people in the football department.
“It’s a wonderful system around him and I know he sees that.”
Donaghy said they had a succession plan in place for Bellamy but pointed out that it was normal business practice and his board would also have one for him.
He believes Bellamy would be enticed to stay due to the young talent in the playing ranks and benefits of avoiding the constant NRL spotlight by being in Melbourne.