Bellamy won’t steal Broncos job from Bennett
CRAIG Bellamy sat two metres from Wayne Bennett and declared he would not steal the Broncos coaching job next season.
Rugby league's great coaching riddle took several intriguing twists on Friday when Brisbane coach Bennett and Melbourne mentor Bellamy spent just under an hour on stage together with interviewer John McCoy at a Toowoomba Turf Club lunch organised by Bennett's brother Bob.
Almost like two promising gallopers being smuggled on course for a secret early trackwork session, they arrived early and separately through a side entrance to avoid the media.
They met each other privately before the function and refused to speak to media as they walked together into the marquee.
Bennett drew an early round of applause from the crowd of 320 when he declared "categorically, equivocally'' he would be Broncos coach next year in what would be the final year of his contract.
McCoy then turned to Bellamy who appeared to confirm that, despite being out of contract this year, he would not head to the Broncos next year and squeeze Bennett out of a job.
The Broncos are chasing Bellamy on a four-year deal allegedly starting from 2020 but there has been speculation that if he wanted to come early Bennett could be paid out.
"If I am not coaching Melbourne next year, I will not be coaching the Broncos,'' said Bellamy, who hopes to make his decision soon but it is unlikely to be in the next few days.
"Wayne has a contract and I have to decide what I will do next year.''
Asked again by McCoy whether he could coach at Brisbane next season Bellamy said: "No, Wayne is going to coach there. He has a contract for 2019 so there you go.''
As he said that last sentence Bellamy looked slightly uncomfortable and smiled and looked downwards.
Body language experts may have speculated it was not the most convincing of denials but his words were convincing enough.
Then came another twist.
At a recent press conference Bellamy speculated he may take next season off but he now seems to have gone cold on the idea, meaning if Brisbane are going to recruit him, it looks like next year or bust.
"I spoke to Wayne about this earlier. If you sit out of the game for 12 months the game changes very quickly. It evolves very quickly. If you do that you might lose touch with what is going on in the game so it is probably not the ideal situation,'' he said.
Bellamy added there would be no chance the Storm would offer him a 12-month extension which would allow him to join the Broncos at the end of next season.
"No-one is going to sign you up for 12 months - it would either be a three-year contract or no contract I would imagine,'' he said.
Bennett, extracted a laugh from the crowd - and Bellamy - when asked whether the duo could perhaps work as a team next year.
"No,'' was his emphatic denial.
"It just would not work for is. We worked together for five years and it worked really well but Craig is a top coach in his own right. It is different with young coaches.''
Bellamy said the five years he had as Bennett's assistant coach at Brisbane were "as enjoyable as any he has had in football'' and he relished the clubs premierships in 1998 and 2000.
He conceded that coaching the Storm in the post Cam Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater era would be challenging for "there would be few players who have ever played as long in those positions.''
"It would be challenging for everyone at the club - the coach, the CEO and the players,'' he said.