Strike four. Craig Bellamy has broken the Broncos' hearts once again.

Brisbane's patient, nine-month pursuit of Bellamy has collapsed with the Melbourne coach closing the door on the Broncos and Cronulla as he prepares to ink a lifetime arrangement with the Storm.

Melbourne powerbrokers will meet with Bellamy in the coming days secure in the knowledge the champion Storm coach has ruled out a big-money defection to the Broncos or his other suitor, the Cronulla Sharks.

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News Corp understands Bellamy, who has weighed up the prospect of retirement at season's end, will coach Melbourne for one more season before transitioning into a job that will keep him at the Storm until his 70th birthday.

The Broncos approached Bellamy last August in a bid to bring the Storm icon to Red Hill.

They were prepared to consider a deal of up to 10 years for Bellamy to act as a cultural chief supporting rookie NRL mentor Kevin Walters in what was pitched as Brisbane's coaching dream team for a Red Hill revolution.

But Brisbane's grand dream is in tatters, with Bellamy forming the view he cannot walk away from a Melbourne club he has turned into the NRL's superpower over the past two decades.

It is the fourth time the Broncos have failed to successfully orchestrate Operation Bellamy.

The Storm coach first said no thanks to Brisbane in 2009 when Ivan Henjak was a Plan B choice, then in 2011 when Anthony Griffin was given the reins and Brisbane suffered a third knock back in 2018 when they failed to sign him as Wayne Bennett's successor.

The Sharks are equally hopeful of poaching Bellamy but the 62-year-old would face challenges turning Cronulla into a force with one of the most poorly-resourced clubs in the league.

There will be no magical reunion for Craig Bellamy and Kevin Walters at the Broncos.
There will be no magical reunion for Craig Bellamy and Kevin Walters at the Broncos.

Melbourne bosses are anticipating an answer from Bellamy within seven days. They are confident he will not only commit to the club, but remain in Melbourne, as opposed to relocating to Queensland to take up a remote consultancy role for the Storm.

Melbourne's ideal scenario is for Bellamy to coach the NRL team in 2022 before taking up a long-term appointment as the Storm's football supremo.

For Brisbane, the silence is deafening.

The Broncos board have not heard from the Storm coach for almost six months and not even the arrival of new Brisbane CEO Dave Donaghy, who worked with Bellamy in Melbourne, is likely to reignite their poaching raid.

Bellamy rates Melbourne's 2020 premiership win as one of his greatest feats in rugby league and it has only reinforced his 19-year bond to a Storm club that will fight tooth-and-nail to stave off the Broncos.

Bellamy suggested on Wednesday that he was close to making an announcement on his future amid reports he is set to retire.

"You guys must get sick of hearing it, but I'd like to think it's close," he said.

Not even new Broncos CEO Dave Donaghy caan likely change Craig Bellamy’s mind.
Not even new Broncos CEO Dave Donaghy caan likely change Craig Bellamy’s mind.

"There's been a few issues (to sort out) but hopefully (his future will be finalised) soon.

"I'm not sure what headline you can make out of that."

Donaghy's Storm CEO successor Justin Rodski told News Corp last month he would be shocked if Bellamy quit Melbourne.

"We are certainly optimistic Craig will stay," Rodski said.

"It's certainly an option for Craig to transition into another role with us.

"We would like to think in our discussions with Craig there is flexibility in the deal for him to do that at a time when he is ready to do that."


Originally published as Bellamy breaks Broncos hearts ... yet again