The NRL could be set for a sensational shake-up as early as next season, with Brisbane reportedly in talks with Craig Bellamy about taking over from Wayne Bennett.
Fox Sports reported the Broncos have been talking with the Melbourne Storm coach for some time and may be prepared to offer the premiership-winning coach a four-year, $5 million deal.
However, Storm chief executive Dave Donaghy has since confirmed a three-year extension worth nearly $4m has been offered for Bellamy to stay.
“Craig has a significant three-year deal on the table with us. That’s been there for a month,” Donaghy told NRL.com.
Bellamy’s existing contract with the Victorian club concludes at the end of this season, while Bennett is locked in at Brisbane for 2019.
The Fox Sports report claimed the Broncos could attempt to move Bennett on in order to get Bellamy in for next year.
The alternative option would be the Storm coach taking a well-deserved year off before taking over for the 2020 season.
“Fascinating development as Brisbane Broncos officials have repeatedly denied any and all talk of Wayne being moved on,” 7 News Brisbane’s Chris Garry said of the report.
“If Broncos really have been negotiating to sign Bellamy behind Bennett’s back then his position at the club moving forward is untenable. And a poor way to treat the man who built the club. If true, hopefully it’s because Bennett has told them he’s retiring.”
Bellamy, 58, had said when he last re-signed with Melbourne in 2014 that he expected to retire at the end of 2018.
But there is no sign he knows now where his future lies, recently reiterating that he expected to arrive at a final decision in the coming weeks.
The two coaches are the best in modern rugby league, with Bellamy beginning his career as an assistant to Bennett.
He has steered the Storm to every finals series bar 2010, when the club was penalised over salary cap breaches that also saw their 2007 and 2009 premierships stripped, since taking over in 2003.
Melbourne have since reached three grand finals, winning in 2012 and last year.
Bellamy’s departure would continue the Storm’s transition out of the ‘big three’ era following Cooper Cronk’s exit and Billy Slater’s likely retirement at the end of the season.
Brisbane have not won a premiership since 2006 but Bennett has tallied a remarkable record in his 30 years of coaching.
The Broncos have won six grand finals under the 68-year-old, who also led St George Illawarra to a premiership in 2010.
Both men are set to address the media on Wednesday, with Bennett likely to clarify the intense speculation around his coaching future.