NRL great Cooper Cronk believes the Melbourne Storm have already identified Craig Bellamy’s successor as uncertainty over his future rumbles on.
Melbourne legend and current Queensland coach Billy Slater and Sydney Roosters assistant Jason Ryles are reportedly the favourites to replace Bellamy in the hotseat.
And while Cronk admitted being in the dark over the identity of the replacement, he is adamant the Storm have already made their decision.
‘I imagine they already know who that person is,’ he told News Corp.
‘They are very good. They are not a club that sits down and waits for Craig to say he is in or out.
Cooper Cronk believes the Storm have already identified a replacement for Craig Bellamy
Bellamy is yet to make his mind up on whether he wants to coach the Storm next season
They have done their homework, they have done their due diligence, they know who their person is.
‘They are just giving Craig enough time to make that decision.’
Cronk spent 14 of his 16 NRL seasons under Bellamy at the Storm and revealed he has tried to convince his former mentor to step down for the past three years, but to no avail.
‘I have said for the last three years that he should retire,’ the four-time premiership winner said.
‘He has never listened to me. Everyone has their little fix and Craig’s fix is helping young men achieve their dreams and helping the Melbourne Storm achieve ultimate success.
‘He deserves the opportunity to lay on a reclining chair with the Coolangatta sun in his face and read a book.’
The veteran coach spent time during the team’s bye weekend with his extended family in Queensland and was expected to make a call on his coaching future on his return.
Before his mini-break Storm chairman Matt Tripp said he felt a decision was ‘imminent,’ with Bellamy aware time is of the essence if they are to find a suitable replacement.
Bellamy (pictured with Cameron Smith after the 2017 Grand Final) won five premierships with Melbourne but the 2007 and 2009 titles were subsequently stripped for salary cap breaches
Cronk (left) played 14 of his 16 seasons in the NRL at Melbourne under Bellamy (right)
Melbourne legend and current Queensland coach Billy Slater (left) and Sydney Roosters assistant Jason Ryles (right) are reportedly the favourites to replace Bellamy in the hotseat
The 63-year-old signed a five-year deal in 2021 but included a clause where he could step into a coaching director role when he felt the time was right.
Melbourne boss Justin Rodski said the Storm were still uncertain whether Bellamy would lead the club for a 22nd NRL season.
‘We’ve given him every amount of time that he needs to make his decision and we’re not sure yet which way he’s going to go,’ he told reporters on Tuesday.
‘It’s obviously a really big decision for him and his family and we’re hopefully getting an answer from him in the next couple of weeks.
‘We’re hopeful that he stays on in the senior coaching role, but if he doesn’t it’s pleasing to know that he will still be around and involved in the club.
‘Maybe by this time next week.’
Bellamy has spoken about retirement for the past 10 years but hasn’t been able to step away from the club he’s steered to three premierships.
Rodski said they weren’t frustrated by the process given they’d been through it so many times before.
‘We’re used to, we do it every year, but also we’re doing some planning in the background for what the future looks like and what succession looks like and Craig’s been involved in that planning so from our perspective we’ll give him as long as he needs,’ he added.
Cameron Munster revealed he has tried to push Bellamy to commit to another year
Star playmaker Cameron Munster said he was trying to push Bellamy to commit to another year but the coach wasn’t letting on which way he was leaning.
‘I’ve been trying to push little things here and there, saying he’s still got it but it’s up to him,’ Munster told AAP.
‘He’s been around the game for so long, and he knows what it takes to be a NRL coach and if he feels like he can’t give any more to the game, or he feels like he’s hindering someone’s development he won’t stay in anyone’s way.
‘But the playing group still believe in him and are still passionate about having him as coach and still respect him at the club so I don’t see why he shouldn’t re-sign.’