Bellamy’s choice: Storm skipper says master coach will make ‘a lifestyle decision’

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The lure of spending more time with his grandchildren, among other lifestyle factors, will weigh on NRL master coach Craig Bellamy as he decides whether to continue as Melbourne Storm coach beyond this season, according to Storm captain and premiership player Christian Welch.

Welch insisted the uncertainty about Bellamy’s future was not an issue for the Storm as they prepare to confront the Broncos in a season-defining clash at AAMI Park on Thursday night.

Storm, usually a powerhouse of the competition, are placed sixth following a 12-point loss to South Sydney during Magic Round at the weekend.

Storm master coach Craig Bellamy and skipper Christian Welch.

With a decision on Bellamy’s future imminent, Welch said a call on a whether he coaches next season or moves into a coaching director role would be shaped largely by non-football matters.

“It’s not because he doesn’t love football. I think it’s because he has other desires in his life and such a big commitment and obviously sacrifices a lot,” Welch said. “He’s got plenty of grandkids, and they’re up in Queensland, his daughter in the Gold Coast. I’m sure he would love to spend more time with them.

“So at the end of the day, I think it’s a lifestyle decision.”

He described the situation as “business as usual until we hear different”.

“Obviously, we’d love for him to stay, but players are used to it. I think maybe it might come into play if you may be off-contract and wondering if he’s going to be there or not, but for us guys who are committed to the Storm, we really love the club and love Craig as our head coach, and we’re going to turn up and do our job either way.

“It’s not as though it’s just Craig. Craig’s got a huge line of assistant coaches, support staff, Frank Ponissi, who’s our football manager, who’s been here for a long time. So, I think there’s a real consistency and stability in the group.”

Christian Welch.Credit: Getty Images

Welch said the Storm’s inconsistent form and the upcoming clash with the Broncos, rather than a prospective return to the Maroons for this year’s State of Origin series, was at the front of his mind.

The Storm prop does not regard himself as a certainty for Origin selection after spending last year on the sidelines.

“Obviously, I didn’t play an [Origin] game last year, I was injured and played one NRL game, so I think I’m a pretty long way away from thinking I’m a sure thing,” he said.

“I’m just trying to play well for the Storm and, obviously, it’s been frustrating because we’ve been a bit up and down.”

Welch played for Queensland in the 2019-21 Origin series and said getting the call-up from Maroons coach Billy Slater was subconsciously in the back of players’ minds, but the focus needed to be on each club game.

“State of Origin is the pinnacle of our game, and you’d love to represent your state. But I’m just focusing on turning [around Storm’s season] and I know it’s a cliché, but you [have] just got to perform well at club level, and you can’t think too much about that stuff.

“There’s an excitement for about 30 guys who probably think they’re a great chance of playing Origin, and at the end of the day, only 17 can take the field.”

Welch said the Broncos match will be a challenge, but he’s hoping one that will give Storm an opportunity to redeem themselves after the Rabbitohs loss.

“It’s been a pretty inconsistent year, and we’ve had some really good wins. We’ve also had some really disappointing losses. So, it’s as long as we’re continually trying to get better and improve and learning from our, I suppose, more disappointing efforts and games,” said Welch.

“So, it was got a bit of a lesson on Saturday night against the Rabbitohs. We’ll review that and come better against the Broncs.”

Watch every prime-time Storm match of the NRL season free on Channel 9 and 9Now.

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