Billy Slater responds to calls to take over from Craig Bellamy as Storm coach

The Melbourne Storm champion has been floated as the perfect successor to his old coach.

Billy Slater and Craig Bellamy, pictured here at the Melbourne Storm.
Billy Slater has been floated as a successor to Craig Bellamy as Melbourne Storm coach. Image: Getty

Melbourne Storm champion Billy Slater has moved to play down suggestions he will take over from Craig Bellamy as coach of the club. Bellamy is rumoured to be considering retiring from full-time coaching at the end of the 2023 season, raising questions about who could take over at the famous club.

Bellamy signed a five-year contract extension with the Storm last year, however there are no stipulations that he has to remain head coach for the duration. He has previously stated that he will decide his future in the NRL on a season-by-season basis.

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Speaking to Yahoo Sport Australia recently, Newcastle great Matty Johns said Slater would be the perfect successor to Bellamy. Slater is the current Queensland State of Origin coach and works with the Storm on a part-time basis.

"In my opinion, Billy Slater is the first bloke I’d bump," Johns told Yahoo Sport Australia. "People say 'nah, there's no way he'd do it', but it's what he loves most, what he does best. He's one of the rare players whose individual brilliance and natural talent was matched by being so analytical. If I was the Storm owners, I'd be going straight to Billy and saying 'right, we aren't leaving this meeting until we get your signature on a three-year deal'."

But speaking on the 'Billy Slater podcast' on Tuesday, the man himself said he doesn't see himself as a full-time NRL coach. "I really enjoy my life at the moment. I've got a good balance to it," he said.

"The Melbourne Storm mean a lot to me. I've spent half my life at that club, and I'm still there now as a part-time coach, still contributing to the club. At the moment it's a no (I won't take over from Bellamy). I don't see myself as an NRL coach."

Billy Slater, pictured here during a Melbourne Storm training session.
Billy Slater looks on during a Melbourne Storm training session. (Photo by Graham Denholm/Getty Images)

Cooper Cronk's warning to Billy Slater

Fellow Storm champion Cooper Cronk also believes Slater would be the perfect replacement for Bellamy, but expressed concerns. "Billy's the greatest fullback to ever play the game so when you say he can't do something, well, guess what, think again," Cronk told Yahoo Sport Australia. "He loves his football, his football IQ is high and he has good relationships with people.

"If you want to be good at something, particularly as a player or coach, you need to give up a lot of your time, effort and energy. Billy has all the ingredients to succeed, but it’s up to him whether he wants to devote that time and energy to it. That's up to Billy and where he's at in his life."

If Slater was to become coach of the Storm, he would likely have to walk away from the Queensland State of Origin job and give up his lucrative TV gig with Channel 9. "He showed in State of Origin he can handle the pressure," Johns said. "It wouldn’t worry me at all. I think he's that good. He'd handle without a problem, no doubt."

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