Matty Johns names Craig Bellamy's successor as Melbourne Storm coach

The Melbourne Storm are expected to name Craig Bellamy's successor soon.

Matty Johns, pictured here alongside Craig Bellamy.
Matty Johns has named the man he thinks will replace Craig Bellamy at the Storm. Image: Getty

The smart money says it will be around Easter when Craig Bellamy officially announces the end of his 21-year reign at Melbourne. And according to Matty Johns, who knows the Storm set-up intimately, the search party for a new coach need not venture out much past the front door.

The man to fill Bellamy's enormous shoes from 2024 is one of their own. "In my opinion, Billy Slater is the first bloke I’d bump," Johns told Yahoo Sport Australia.

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"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'." Premiership-winning Storm halfback Cooper Cronk laughs when told Johns wants Slater locked in a room until he signs, remarking, "Matty says some outrageous things at times".

But that doesn’t mean he disagrees with the push to install the champion fullback-turned-coach. Cronk fully backs his old teammate to make a seamless transition from State of Origin coaching to club coaching if given the opportunity.

"Billy's the greatest fullback to ever play the game so when you say he can't do something, well, guess what, think again," he said. "He loves his football, his football IQ is high and he has good relationships with people."

Billy Slater and Craig Bellamy share a laugh.
Could Billy Slater (pictured left) be the next coach of the storm after Craig Bellamy (pictured right) calls time on his career. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Billy Slater's sacrifice if he seeks Storm role

But Cronk delivers one disclaimer. "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," he added.

"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."

Slater would have to make major sacrifices if were to take on the Storm job, giving up his coveted Origin role and standing down from a lucrative deal with Channel 9. Then there's the grind, intensity and expectation that comes with running an NRL club, not to mention the large shadow cast by Bellamy.

"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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