Craig Bellamy after being awarded Coach Of The Year Award in 2019. Picture: Brett Costello

Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy is on the verge of his 21st NRL season, and while all fingers are pointing towards the end of the line, the master coach is yet to decide his future beyond 2023.

Bellamy first joined Melbourne ahead of the 2003 season, debuting Billy Slater in his first game as head coach, and after two decades, is still yet to lose a Round 1 clash, though the Storm did lose their opening game in 2004 after receiving the bye for the first week of the season.

The Portland, NSW product is seen as an intense individual by outsiders, his coach's-box blow-ups a true rugby league sight to behold, however internally 'Bellyache' is considered a 'player's coach', with The Daily Telegraph's recent coach's poll revealing Bellamy as the cream of the crop.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 02: Cameron Smith and Craig Bellamy of the Storm hold up the NRL premiership trophy during the Melbourne Storm NRL Grand Final celebrations at Gosch's Paddock on October 2, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

While it was widely believed that Bellamy would step down at the end of this season, the coach confirmed nothing is cement yet.

“Nothing has changed - just concentrating on the pre-season and not worrying about the other stuff yet,” Bellamy told The Daily Telegraph.

“Just carry on. I don't think they're going to want a decision straight away. Having said that, they need to get on with who is going to be the next one too.

“We will just wait and see what happens there.”

There's been a host of names thrown up as a possible successor, and several ex-Melbourne assistant coaches floating around, however it's shaping up to be a two-horse race between Roosters' assistant and former Storm prop Jason Ryles, and current Storm right-hand-man Marc Brentnall.

“In that area, and that is the area I am responsible for, I am really confident with those guys there,” Bellamy said.

“The next guy that comes in will be a decision for the club to make, not me. If they want an opinion I will give it.

“At the end of the day it has to be the club's decision. The club is in real good hands. Our chairman Matt Tripp, has a real care for the club.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 17: Craig Bellamy, Head Coach of the Storm receives a standing ovation after coaching his 500th NRL game during the round two NRL match between the Melbourne Storm and the South Sydney Rabbitohs at AAMI Park, on March 17, 2022, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)

“I don't have a lot to do with Matt but the thing I do have to do with him, he is a really impressive operator who really cars about the place.

“He doesn't come in and rule with an iron first. The decisions him and his board make, they make them for the right reasons.”

The coach currently has a March deadline set for his decision, however the club isn't exactly rushing the veteran with an outside chance of retaining his services beyond 2023.
Melbourne kickstart their campaign against the Sydney Roosters in their first trial this afternoon, with Bellamy coming up against Brandon Smith for the first time since the hooker's departure.