Craig Bellamy has confirmed he will continue his record-breaking career as Melbourne Storm’s head coach for a 22nd season in 2024 despite expectations he would step down at the end of this season.
The master coach signed a new five-year contract with Storm in 2022 that allows him to decide each year whether he will continue in the head coach role for the following season or transition into a coaching director role.
Today, he informed the club he would remain in charge of the NRL squad he has led in 532 games with a winning percentage of just under 70%, for another year.
“It took me a little while to make a decision to be honest. Six or eight weeks ago I was pretty certain I would be packing things up,” Bellamy said of his decision.
“I spoke to a few people I know who have retired from different jobs and they spoke about the connection they have with people they see at work every day and that sometimes you miss that.
Munster also came to me a couple of weeks ago and he said the players and leaders were keen for me to stay and thought I still had something to give the group.
“Obviously we have a young crop and some of the guys we bought in have taken a while to adapt to our club, which often happens. But I am excited about how much improvement we have in us as a footy team and being consistent as a footy team.
“People like John Ribot, Chris Anderson, Mick Moore and Greg Brentnall set a wonderful foundation for our club. We have a caring club – all the people in the organisation really care about what the club stands for and are all supportive of each other.
“Our members and fans are as patriotic as any supporters I’ve seen in any club I’ve been involved with. They really turn up and they love the footy team. It seems to be a very important part of their life.
“I’ll never forget when we went through salary cap issues, and the week leading into the first game I didn’t think anyone would turn up given what had happened that week. I think we had 30,000 people there and that proved to me that they are really loyal to this footy team, and I’d like to think we are loyal to them as well.” Bellamy said.
Storm Chairman, Matt Tripp, said the club was delighted Bellamy would again head up the coaching team in 2024.
“This is the news I’m sure everyone connected with Storm – our players and staff, our partners, and our members and fans – wanted to hear,” he said.
“His passion and desire to do the job hasn’t wavered and he is now bringing through an exciting young team here at Storm. Last week’s game showed Craig is up for whatever challenge is ahead and he’s clearly enjoying leading this new wave of players.”
Bellamy is one of only four coaches in premiership history to reach the 500-game mark and heads the list for most consecutive games with one club.
He took on the senior coaching role with Melbourne in 2003, leading the team to a semi-final in his first year.
Since that time Storm has played in a remarkable 19 finals series, winning the grand final on five occasions, the minor premiership seven times, and he has the best win-loss record of any current coach in the NRL.
Along the journey, Bellamy has been awarded the Dally M Coach of the Year on six occasions and the Rugby League International Federation Coach of the Year twice.