Craig Bellamy has decided to remain at Melbourne Storm from 2019 and beyond, putting an end to the hopes of Brisbane Broncos supporters that he might return to the Queensland capital and take over the coaching reins from Wayne Bennett.
Bellamy is in Newcastle for Sunday's round-15 game against the Knights.
A verbal agreement was struck on Saturday between Bellamy and Storm chief executive Dave Donaghy that he will extend his 16-year association with the club.
He took over as head coach in 2003 after five years as assistant to Bennett at the Broncos.
In that time Bellamy has taken the Storm to seven NRL grand finals, winning four of them although the 2007 and 2009 titles were struck from the record books after salary cap rorts were uncovered by previous club administrators.
Bellamy, who turns 60 in October, was off contract at the end of 2018. But with the departure of Cooper Cronk and the looming retirements of Cameron Smith and Billy Slater over the next couple of years, Bellamy leaving would have been a giant blow to the club.
Now he can continue the work of preparing the next generation of Storm players with the help of Smith, Slater, Jesse Bromwich and Will Chambers.
Melbourne released a statement on Sunday, confirming Bellamy's reappointment.
"Craig has proven himself as the best coach in the NRL, he's been a pivotal part of our success," Donaghy said.
"I'm personally delighted Craig has once again recommitted himself to Storm. He and Wendy have made Melbourne home and I'm sure the entire city will be as equally delighted by this news.
"Storm is a special club, with wonderful people and an environment that allows our staff and players to constantly challenge themselves and grow in their roles – Craig has been a key driver of that. In speaking to Craig throughout this process, it's clear his enthusiasm for coaching, especially our next generation of talent, shows no sign of slowing down. There is still much to achieve at Storm for him."
Bellamy said the Storm's players were an integral reason to his decision to stay in the Victorian capital.
"I'm very happy to be remaining at Melbourne Storm. There were a number of factors to weigh up and I'm glad now to have my future decided. It would've been pretty hard to leave the players, I'm very close to the group here and that was one of the reasons I decided to stay. It would've been very hard to coach against guys like Cameron, Billy and Hoffy who were all here when I started in 2003.
"Melbourne Storm was the first club to give me the opportunity to coach at first-grade level, so I certainly owed the club something in that respect and I'm looking forward to the next three years."