Melbourne Storm are counting on Craig Bellamy choosing love over money following St George Illawarra’s massive bid to secure their successful NRL coach.
Off contract at the end of the 2014 season, the Dragons are believed to have tabled Bellamy an offer worth $6 million over five years.
The mastermind of the 2012 premiership, Bellamy has said he’s “50-50” about the possibility of leaving the club where he started his senior coaching career back in 2003 and he plans to make a decision on what’s likely to be his final coaching contract this month.
“We know he’s looking elsewhere and he’s entitled to do that,” Storm chief executive Ron Gauci said on Wednesday.
“We’re obviously keen to keep him and we’re negotiating to do that.”
Gauci said that with two clubs vying for him the chances of keeping him were also 50-50, but he hoped that Bellamy’s strong emotional ties would prove too strong.
Bellamy steered the club back to the 2012 title after the ignominy of losing their 2007 and 2009 titles for salary cap cheating, and he has a close bond with his players especially Storm superstars Cameron Smith and Billy Slater.
Ryan Hoffman and Brett Finch both returned from England to play again under their mentor.
“We’d like to think that the emotional ties that he has to the club and its players will weigh in his thoughts,” Gauci says.
“If this is to be his last contract that he’ll consider where he’d like to finish his coaching days.
“We’d like to think that weighs favourably our way as well.”
Gauci said the Storm weren’t surprised by the reported size of the Dragons’ offer given Bellamy’s well-proven ability and standing in the game.
They planned to do all they could to accommodate him in terms of money and contract length, with the 54-year-old feeling this deal could be his last.
“We’re very keen to work with Craig’s requirements to keep him,” Gauci said.
“He has the role for as long as he wants as long as I’m in the chair.”
The Storm resume training in Melbourne on Thursday following a 10-day break, with representative players skipper Smith and Cooper Cronk to make their first official appearances at training.
Slater has been granted leave to attend his sister’s wedding.
Meanwhile, the club confirmed it will have a team compete in Harold Matthews (under 16) competition side for the first time in 2013.