Cameron Smith expects Craig Bellamy to stay at Melbourne, although the captain says he has no insight this time about his coach’s NRL future.
Bellamy is set to tell the Storm on Tuesday that he will stay until the end of the 2018 season, according to News Corp Australia.
The 56-year-old’s deal expires at the end of this season and Bellamy has said regularly that he wants the matter finalised before their round-one game on Monday night against St George Illawarra.
“He’s actually been fairly coy on his contract talks and his future,” Smith said.
“I remember the last time I was off contract, he actually spoke to me a few times about what he was thinking and what my thoughts were.
“I get the feeling he’ll stay … just by seeing him around the place.
“He still looks hungry every time he comes to training.”
Bellamy has been at the helm of the club since 2003, having guided them to a premiership in 2012 after their 2007 and 2009 titles had been stripped as a result of salary cap breaches.
While the Storm await Bellamy’s decision, the other major issue facing the team ahead of the opening round is whether Billy Slater and Cameron Munster will play against the Dragons.
Slater is yet to return from the shoulder injury that kept him out for most of last season.
Munster filled in for him admirably, but he is recovering from a knee injury.
Smith said they would rather Slater miss the first couple of games if that meant he could play for the rest of the season.
“We’re not too sure – he’s been training strongly. It all just depends on how is shoulder is feeling,” Smith said of Slater.
“The biggest thing for the players and coaches is we don’t want to risk Billy early.
“If there is a risk of him coming back too early, we don’t want to chuck him in for the sake of it.
“As good as Cameron Munster was last year for us, it would have been nice to have Billy Slater on deck.”
Smith said Munster did some running on his own in the past few days, but was yet to rejoin full team training.
Ball handling was an issue for the Storm in the pre-season, but Smith said they had a 90-minute training session where they only dropped the ball three times.
“It’s two different things, training and playing,” he said.