NRL: Warriors target Bellamy

By Michael Brown

All roads point to Craig Bellamy being the Warriors' preferred target as new coach. Photo / Getty Images.
All roads point to Craig Bellamy being the Warriors' preferred target as new coach. Photo / Getty Images.

All roads point to Craig Bellamy being the Warriors' preferred target as new coach but this could mean opening the chequebook to the tune of more than $4 million over the next three years.

Warriors chief executive Wayne Scurrah said earlier this week they had one main target and up to three others they were also considering to replace Brian McClennan who was sacked on Monday.

Owners Owen Glenn and Eric Watson want a high-profile coach to take over and few command the sort of attention Bellamy does.

Bellamy is off contract with Melbourne at the end of 2013 and has reportedly put on hold talks of a contract extension as he fields inquiries from the likes of the Warriors, Sydney Roosters and Dragons.

It means he would command top dollar and some reports put this close to A$1.2 million a season but, given Glenn and Watson have combined fortunes in excess of $1 billion, is unlikely to scare off the Warriors.

Scurrah said he hasn't so far been given any indications by the owners any coach is off limits and emphasised they want the best they can find, but also said people were "getting carried away" over the talk around Bellamy.

"Brian has only just gone," he said. "We have a few ideas and want to make some progress of those but nothing is done yet."

Regardless, the Warriors are desperate to win a first NRL premiership and Bellamy appeals on so many levels.

He was Dally M Coach of the year in 2006, 07 and 2011, took Melbourne to four consecutive grand finals and won the competition twice, albeit when the club massively breached the salary cap. The Storm presently sit second behind the Bulldogs on the NRL ladder and his winning percentage of close to 70 per cent is one of the best in the game.

Whether Bellamy would be interested in joining the Warriors is the big talking point. He would see it as a new challenge after a decade at the Storm and there are many aspects about the club that would appeal - financially sound, good development system etc - but he could essentially have his pick of any club in the competition. The Warriors have also historically struggled with attracting quality players and coaches across the Tasman.

Melbourne chief executive Ron Gauci is desperate to retain Bellamy and commit him to another long-term deal.

"Any club that has a coaching vacancy, you would expect them to go after the best coach available and the coach who best suits their needs," Gauci told The Daily Telegraph. "I'm not surprised by the [Warriors] speculation."

Stephen Kearney and David Kidwell, two of Bellamy's assistants during his tenure with Melbourne, are also said to be in the running for the Warriors post but could also appeal as assistants again.

Stand-in coach Tony Iro has the chance to impress over the next fortnight, starting with tomorrow's visit to the Dragons, and has support within the playing ranks.

Both Jacob Lillyman and Elijah Taylor nominated Iro as their preferred candidates and, while this is probably genuine, players often cite the incumbent for political reasons.

"I would love to see Tony Iro get the job," Lillyman said. "He's got a great football brain, has the players' respect and support and can get the best out of us as a playing group. Given the appropriate resources, I reckon he will be the man to take us to the grand final."

Iro is typically phlegmatic. After more than 30 years in rugby league, he knows to expect anything.

"I'm going to really enjoy these two weeks," he said. "I don't know what is going to come after that. If it continues on, it continues on. I have been around in football long enough to know what will be will be."

That, it seems, could depend on Craig Bellamy.

- APNZ

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