Craig Bellamy makes call on NRL future as Tevita Pangai Junior delivers Melbourne Storm promise

The Storm coach has committed to leading the club in 2025 in what will be his 23rd NRL season in charge.

Craig Bellamy has committed his future to Melbourne for at least another season. The Storm coach on Friday announced he will coach Melbourne for a 23rd NRL season in 2025 ahead of their top-of-the-table clash with Cronulla at AAMI Park.

Bellamy signed a unique five-year contract with the Storm in 2022 that allows him to decide each year whether he will continue in the head coach position or transition into a coaching director role. And ahead of the team's final training session before their round ten clash with the Sharks, Bellamy confirmed he will remain at the helm in 2025.

Craig Bellamy pictured left and Tevita Pangai Junior right
Craig Bellamy has committed to leading the Storm in 2025, while Tevita Pangai Junior says he will give up boxing to focus on his footy. Image: Getty

"The main reason that I'm staying on is the people in the club at the moment, right from the top through to the players, coaching staff, we've got a whole heap of really good people here," Bellamy said on Friday. "I'm happy to still be here and really enjoying it ... I'm enjoying working with the players and I think we've got a pretty talented group this year."

Bellamy said he had been visited by senior members of the playing group, namely Cameron Munster about their desire for him to remain as coach. Last year the Melbourne five-eighth said he would have left for the Dolphins if not for Bellamy and the Storm star iconically talked the coach into staying last year. And this year was no different.


"He (Munster) came about two weeks ago, that was his usual visit, and a couple of the other senior players spoke to me as well," Bellamy said.

"I wanted to make sure they were happy for me to stay on as well, as sometimes you wear a bit thin and obviously I'm getting to the older age bracket too and some things these days that happen are a little bit modern for me, but they came in and encouraged me to go on, so that was a big part of making the decision I've made."

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 25: Craig Bellamy, head coach of the Storm (L) and Cameron Munster of the Storm sing the national anthem during the ANZAC Day ceremony prior to the round eight NRL match between Melbourne Storm and South Sydney Rabbitohs at AAMI Park, on April 25, 2024, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)
Last year Cameron Munster said he would have left for the Dolphins if not for Craig Bellamy.

Bellamy initially said 2023 would be his last year in charge but it isn't the first time the Storm coach hasn't gone through with his retirement promise. With one of the best spines in the competition, Melbourne are in prime position for a premiership bid in the next few years. And with seven wins from the opening eight games Melbourne are on track for a stunning 21st finals campaign on Bellamy's watch.

Bellamy took on the senior coaching role with the Storm in 2003 and in his time as coach has led the team to five grand finals and seven minor premierships. "I sort of think, 'what am I going to do if I'm not doing this', and it's just a really enjoyable place to be at the moment,'' Bellamy said. "We've brought some young guys in who have done a really good job for us."

Former Bulldogs forward Tevita Pangai Junior has stated his desire to join the Melbourne Storm and says he is so determined to make it work that he will hang up his boxing gloves so he can give his all to footy. Pangai Junior left the NRL world stunned when he walked out on his mega-Bulldogs contract early to leave around $750,000 behind on the final year of his contract.

Pangai Junior is signed to Souths Logan Magpies in the Queensland Cup and will have his fifth and last professional fight on Saturday night. And after informal chats with Brisbane coach Kevin Walters and Melbourne mentor Craig Bellamy, the former footy star is convinced a career in NRL is what he most desires.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 05:  Tevita Pangai Junior knocks out Jeremiah Tupai-Ui in the heavyweight fight between Tevita Pangai Junior and Jeremiah Tupai-Ui at Aware Super Theatre on November 05, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)
Pangai Junior will have his fifth and last professional fight on Saturday night.

"Then I am going to go back to rugby league full time," he told AAP. "I had a coffee with Kevvie and had informal talks. He said I have a lot of footy in me and that conversation confirmed I still have it.

"The Broncos door seems to be shut so I reached out to Craig Bellamy. The big thing he said about my career was that consistency had been lacking. I agree. That's one thing I want to get right when I get back. Both of those chats have lit the fire in my belly. I want to get back to my best in the NRL.

"I just want to control what I can control. I am eating the right food and training hard. I am 114kg at the moment and that was the weight Wayne Bennett always liked me at when I was at the Broncos. I am ready to put my best foot forward." Pangai Junior's chat with Bellamy, as of Friday, had not extended to any official discussions with the club's recruitment and retention committee but he has made it known that Melbourne is his destination of choice.

with AAP