Craig Bellamy is set to continue coaching Melbourne after advising Cronulla officials he would not be taking up an approach to take up a role with the Sharks next season.
The Sharks have had a deal for Bellamy to become football director on the table for some time, but the Storm coaching guru formally turned down the position on Monday.
"He told me that he would make an announcement soon and that he wasn't coming to the Sharks," Cronulla CEO Dino Mezzatesta said.
It was the call the Sharks had been expecting, with the 61-year-old expected to announce leading into Saturday night's top-of-the-table clash with Penrith that he will remain in charge of Melbourne for one more season.
The Sharks have already appointed Craig Fitzgibbon as coach for 2022 and confirmed on Monday that interim coach Josh Hannay would remain as his assistant.
While they missed out on Bellamy, he helped steer Dale Finucane to Cronulla, with the NSW forward's four-year commitment to join Fitzgibbon's cause coming after guidance from the Storm mentor and his long-time football manager Frank Ponissi.
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For the Storm, Finucane's exit has proven particularly painful given the respect he holds at the premiers.
The silver lining though is a potential shift in Brandon Smith's long-term future with an obvious vacancy in the No.13 jersey next year.
The Kiwi pocket rocket is understood to have indicated to Melbourne that he is not as committed to seeking a starting hooker spot as he was nine months ago.
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Smith sparked game-wide interest late last year when the Storm agreed to release him at the end of 2021 provided a rival club could provide a similarly high-calibre player in return.
Canterbury, Gold Coast, Brisbane and Wests Tigers headlined interest in the 25-year-old.
But with the player-swap proving a significant hurdle both the Storm and Smith see him seeing out his current deal until the end of next year, and potentially beyond that based off informal discussions.
No contract talks have taken place as yet and neither party is in a rush to do so.
But Smith's sterling form this year has the New Zealand international weighing up his long-term options again as the appeal of staying with Melbourne grows stronger.
Bellamy's juggling act between Smith and fellow star No.9 Harry Grant will begin once more leading into the finals, potentially as early as Saturday's clash against Penrith.
Grant's frustrating hamstring injuries this season have given Smith a regular run in his preferred hooker position.
Finucane's exit next year opens up a starting spot at lock, where he has proven equally, if not more dangerous for the ladder-leaders.
Grant's looming return creates yet another enviable selection headache for Bellamy as he looks to fit gun fullbacks Ryan Papenhuyzen and Nicho Hynes into the same 17.
"Harry trained for the first time with the team in a while last week, if he can get through all of Tuesday's session he'll be named and then we'll monitor him throughout the week," Ponissi told NRL.com.
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"We'll err on the side of caution if he's 95 per cent, he's got to be 100 per cent fit to be selected.
"Given his history this year with hamstrings we won't take any risks with him."
As for Finucane, the 29-year-old told Ponissi and Bellamy last Thursday this would be his final season at the Storm.
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He sat down with his agent on Friday to work through offers from the Sharks, Dragons, Titans, Cowboys and Tigers, having already picked the brains of Melbourne's hierarchy the previous night.
"He bounced a few ideas off us," Ponissi said.
"It's always the player's decision, we can only guide them on what we think but we went through the pros and cons of each option.
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"Ultimately I think the Craig Fitzgibbon factor was the key one. That's no disrespect to any of the other coaches.
"Dale mentioned that he was impressed with the other clubs he considered strongly, particularly the coaches, but having worked with Fitzy at Origin level I think proved pretty decisive.
"Without a shadow of a doubt, it's one of the toughest ones we've had.
"But you put yourself in Dale's shoes with his age, where he's at in the game and his young family, it really was a no-brainer for him, but it was tough all the same."