Rivals circle as Bellamy begins Storm contract talks

Craig Bellamy is set to begin negotiations about extending his stay with Melbourne beyond the 2018 Telstra Premiership season.

It is understood formal talks will start as early as Monday, once Sunday's round-nine match against competition leaders St George Illawarra is out of the way.

Bellamy is off contract at the end of the year but is believed to be putting retirement plans on the back-burner to continue his head coaching career into a 17th straight year.

The 59-year-old, who turns 60 in October, has two grandchildren living in Melbourne and is keen to stay if he can strike the right deal with Storm CEO Dave Donaghy.

But NRL.com understands at least two other clubs have made discreet inquiries about his plans beyond this year.

Bellamy has cut ties with long-standing management firm, The Fordham Company, and has signed with a new agent to help negotiate his latest contract.

He has won four grand finals as a coach, although only the 2012 and 2017 titles are in the record books after the Storm were stripped of the 2007 and 2009 premierships after systematic salary cap rorts were uncovered in 2010.

Five weeks ago Bellamy became just the seventh coach to reach the milestone of 400 games – and just the second after Wayne Bennett, to do it at a single club.

Bellamy declined to comment when contacted by NRL.com on Friday, but he spoke in March of determining his own future regardless of what senior players Cameron Smith and Billy Slater – also off contract in 2018 – decided to do.

He told NRL.com he and Smith had never discussed retiring together.

"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.

Two weeks ago Smith said that once the club was in a position to talk with him about 2019, he would sit down with them as he hoped to be a one-club player.

Smith, who turns 35 in June, even said he could be interested in staying for another two or three years.