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Back-room rivalry takes to field as Kevvy forges own path

Craig Bellamy refused to take questions on his future but Kevin Walters says he is more than comfortable forging his own path if Brisbane's long-time pursuit of his old mate falls short.

Bellamy and Walters go back over 30 years together from their playing days at Canberra, when the former's season-ending shoulder injury helped the latter jag a spot on the Raiders bench for the 1989 grand final.

Their clubs have battled on several fronts for more than six months, clashing over talent raids that have taken in Bellamy, incoming Broncos CEO Dave Donaghy, retired icon Cameron Smith and now rising youngster Xavier Coates.

Now after all that, and a friendship that has endured more than three decades, Walters takes on Bellamy for the first time from the opposing coach's box.

The new Brisbane mentor was an assistant at Melbourne for their 2012 premiership, with powerbrokers at Red Hill pursuing another reunion for more than six months now.

Storm v Broncos - Round 4

Bellamy is expected to knock back Brisbane's multimillion-dollar bid to take on a coaching director role alongside Walters in 2022, but his own future was off-limits at Thursday's pre-game press conference.

Walters too showed little interest in discussing the Storm or Bellamy ahead of arguably the NRL's most one-sided grudge match.

But asked if an eventful first few months with the Broncos clipboard now had him better placed to lead the Red Hill rebuild without a coaching coordinator alongside him, Walters was emphatic.

"I've always been comfortable in my own skin," Walters said.

"Certainly I've got some great assistants around me as well but I'm very comfortable with my position as head coach for the Broncos.​

Broncos expect Suncorp return in round six

"I've got lots of experience in different areas with different coaches and now it's all about putting all those experiences together.

"Certainly my work with the Maroons really accelerated me I believe.

"It's a pretty intense environment State of Origin as we all know and I feel that really tipped me up and topped me off as a coach and now it's time to apply my trade in the NRL.

"I'm really enjoying the role here at the Broncos. We had our first win last weekend and kept the Bulldogs to zero which is even more pleasing and now we face the Storm in Melbourne which for me doesn't get any better in the game."  

As for Bellamy, a decision on his future has been put on hold as he deals with an illness in his family.

The Storm are quietly confident he will remain with the club in one form or another, ideally as head coach for one more year.

Elsewhere the veteran coach admitted to being personally stung by pointed criticism from Fox Sports journalist Paul Kent recently, which prompted a complaint to the NRL and broadcasters by Storm officials.

Looking back at the 2006 grand final

It has been suggested that ongoing criticism has Bellamy considering retirement altogether, though Storm colleagues believe that won't play a significant factor in his post-2021 plans.

Bellamy did however take exception to the claim wrestling tactics associated with Melbourne's long reign of success caused injuries to rival players.

"It got personal," Bellamy said.

"It hurt, to be quite honest; it hurt because it's not true.

"I don't see that I coach people to go out and maim other players, that's certainly not the case."

The return of the set-piece scrum play

Brisbane's COVID-19 outbreak had threatened to see Friday's clash moved from Melbourne's AAMI Park fortress, a venue the Broncos have won just two of their past 10 games at.

The Storm though are looking to turn around a rare 1-2 start as well though, with Bellamy well and truly wary of the visitors with Payne Haas and Matt Lodge returning up front.

"They had a good win and they have some important players coming back, which will add a lot to their team as well," Bellamy said.

"They were very impressive last week and especially their last 20 minutes, so I imagine they'll start where they finished off last week.

"We know we're never going to get an easy game against the Broncos."

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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