Munster helps sway Bellamy to stay Storm coach in 2024
Star playmaker Cameron Munster can take some credit for keeping Craig Bellamy at the Melbourne Storm after the long-time coach announced he would lead the NRL club again in 2024.
Bellamy ended months of speculation around his future when he told the playing group and staff on Monday morning that he had decided to stay on.
At the helm since 2003, Bellamy is contracted with the club through 2026 but had the option to transition into a coaching director role when he felt the time was right.
As recently as last week, he claimed to be unsure whether he would coach for a 22nd season.
Bellamy said he sort advice from people outside of football about the transition into semi-retirement.
But a plea from his star playmaker to stay on helped sway his decision.
"Munster came to me a couple of weeks ago and I don't usually take his advice on life but he said all of the players, and especially the leaders, were very keen for me to stay and they still thought I had something to give to the group," Bellamy said in a club audio statement on Monday.
"That probably started turning me and then the last couple of weeks I decided to go again.
"I still enjoy turning up and mixing with the group here and the staff and I think I've still got something to give after the Munster talk and working with these young guys and trying to help them achieve their dreams of being an NRL player."
The 63-year-old has spoken openly about enjoying the challenge of mentoring an inexperienced playing group after years of premiership dominance.
"Early in my career it's about yourself but as it's gone on, for me, it's about our group improving as individuals," he said.
"I know if we improve as individuals we will improve as a team.
"I want to try and help these young blokes be the best version of themselves as footy players as they can be.
"I'm a bit excited about how much improvement we've got in us."
Club legend Cameron Smith believed the fifth-placed Storm's solid start to the season would have weighed into Bellamy's decision.
"He's contemplated it a few times now, finishing up," the three-time premiership winner told SEN.
"But when you're still getting results and the team is still performing for you, I guess that's the reason why you stick around.
"It doesn't surprise me that he's going around again, although I will say that I thought he was going to finish up this year.
"But I'm not overly shocked that he's recommitted. He's the type of guy that loves the Melbourne Storm, he loves rugby league and he loves coaching."
Bellamy's decision clears the air for St George Illawarra to pursue Jason Ryles as a potential head-coaching option for 2024.
The Dragons are actively sounding out candidates to replace Anthony Griffin next season and reportedly held informal talks with the highly-rated Sydney Roosters assistant last week.
Ryles had also been linked to the Storm job, though, having finished his playing career under Bellamy and then served as an assistant coach at the club between 2016 and 2020.
Queensland State of Origin coach and Storm legend Billy Slater was floated as another potential successor, had Bellamy decided to step down at the end of 2023.