Cameron Smith and Craig Bellamy celebrate after winning the 2017 grand final.

Bellamy and Smith don't plan to retire together at Storm

The two linchpins at Melbourne Storm, coach Craig Bellamy and captain Cameron Smith, have made no pact to end their NRL careers together.

Since both are off contract at the end of the 2018 Telstra Premiership, there has been speculation suggesting they could exitithe AAMI Park gates simultaneously so they didn't have to exist without the other.

Bellamy told NRL.com no such plans or conversations had taken place on the subject of synchronising their final curtain calls.

"At the end of the day he's never asked me what I'm doing and I've never asked him. It's a pretty private and personal thing," Bellamy said.

"Sometimes I'll ask him his advice or he'll ask me mine on footy matters. But we haven't spoken about finishing together. That's up to Smithy and then separately it's up to me."

So has Bellamy, or his manager John Fordham, begun negotiations with Storm CEO Dave Donaghy with round one against Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs in Perth on Saturday?

"I won't start talking until I work out what I want to do. I haven't decided that yet," Bellamy said.

"There's a few things I want a little more time to think about. I'm not going to rush into anything."

The fact Bellamy turns 60 in October, and has two grandchildren, is not going to influence him on whether to remain a full-time coach or not.

"The age of 60 is not a great feeling as you would know," he told this NRL.com reporter, who also celebrates the milestone just six weeks after Bellamy.

"I'm not thinking 'I don't want to do this anymore because I'm heading into my 60s'. If I don't want to coach it'll be because I don't want to do it.

"I realise I'm closer to the end of my coaching career than the start. But I haven't thought a great deal about what I want to do next year, or what I might do anyway after coaching.

"It's been a pretty hectic pre-season already with the World Cup, then the World Club Challenge (v Leeds) and then the testimonial match (for Smith and Johnathan Thurston)."

Bellamy always had a desire to coach Thurston. Being a proud New South Welshman, he was thinking it might come in the Australian arena (he is a former assistant Test coach but didn't get the top gig while Thurston was playing for the Kangaroos). Bellamy was Laurie Daley's Indigenous All Stars offsider in 2013, when Thurston was captain and five-eighth, but that was as close as he got.

"With all due respect I don’t think there would be a coach in the game that wouldn't like to coach Johnathan Thurston," Bellamy said. "It's a given every coach would want him and every club would like him.

"Unfortunately I won't get the chance," he said, mindful Thurston is retiring at season's end.

"But I have always admired him for what he's done and how he's developed as a person, combined with the length of time he's been doing it all."

Storm coach Craig Bellamy following his 350th NRL game as head coach.
Storm coach Craig Bellamy following his 350th NRL game as head coach. ©Scott Davis./NRL Photos.

Coaches shoulder disappointments every year with players coming and going.

For 2018, Bellamy has six players on his list of 29 who have not played first grade. He lost three internationals after the grand final win over the North Queensland Cowboys in Cooper Cronk, Tohu Harris and Jordan McLean.

Normally a coach might be excited about the rejuvenation of his squad. Not Bellamy.

"I don't see it as exciting, but I don't see it as unexciting either. It is what it is because I don't particularly see losing Cooper Cronk (to Sydney Roosters) as exciting.

"But Cooper has now left and I find another halfback. That's where I'm at. I get on with it. No good crying over people who have left. Cooper will always be a favourite son down here because of what he did for this club over a long period of time.

I realise I'm closer to the end of my coaching career than the start.

Craig Bellamy

"We've got a footy season to get through as successfully as we can. We have to get someone as ready as we can to play that role," Bellamy said.

"That's how we're looking at all these new faces coming in. We lost four out of the last grand final (Slade Griffin alongside the other three) and we lost four of the grand final in 2016 (Marika Koroibete, Blake Green, Kevin Proctor and Ben Hampton) so we've lost eight really good first-grade players.

"So it's not something that's new to us. I don't get excited about that, but I also don't get down in the dumps about it either.

"You do the best you can. It sounds boring but that's just the way I'm wired; just the way I think; just the way I do things."

Bellamy admits he had a hard time seeing Greg Inglis run around in season 2011 in a South Sydney Rabbitohs jersey. He hasn't circled round 16 this season for some valium pills, when Storm plays the Roosters, led around by Cronk.

"Not worried about it. I was a lot younger back then when GI left us. I've toughened up now. It's just the way the game is now. Good people come and good people go."

And on that note, it is rather poignant that Storm's first round is against the Bulldogs, which is certain to be filled with emotion after the death of premiership-winning player and coach, Steve Folkes.

"I played against him and coached against him a whole heap of times," Bellamy said.

"He was a quiet, reserved type of guy but his reputation is just so strong.

"I know one of his best mates Billy Johnstone quite well and they both trained like maniacs; ate the right foods; did all the healthy alternatives.

"So for something like that to happen to Steve just doesn't sit right for someone so conscious of their health."

Since Folkes had an uncompromising work ethic as a coach and player, in the Bellamy vein, his unexpected death makes every hard-working coach feel their mortality.

Craig Bellamy following a win versus the Sea Eagles at Lottoland.
Craig Bellamy following a win versus the Sea Eagles at Lottoland. ©Renee McKay/NRL Photos

"I think we all do on occasions like this. It is just a real sad state of affairs for his family. I really feel for his kids. It was a real shock around our club and I'm sure around all NRL clubs," Bellamy said.

"For me, I loved the way he played above his weight, his great technique in his contact. You certainly knew you'd been hit when he tackled you… believe me, I know.

"He was a wonderful player and coach and a big part of our game's history."

Like Folkes did, Bellamy takes delight in spending time with his grandkids. He spoke to NRL.com from his car heading over to see them.

"I just look after them. We go for walks. We go to the park, or walk along the beach, and then we're off for a baby chino. I really enjoy that time."

It is a nice distraction from the grind of being a NRL coach. Bellamy is facing his 16th season, but only his third as a grandfather.

"I'm not sure it's changed me a coach but it's something I really look forward to. So whenever I have some spare time, I go and see them now rather than doing something else."