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Craig Bellamy has backed the next generation of Storm stars to build on the club's history of success after committing to coach the club for a 23rd season. 

The experienced mentor is in the midst of a five-year deal he signed with Melbourne in 2022 that provides the option to transition to a coaching director role after each season.

That may be the long-term plan, but Bellamy remains committed to coaching the club and is excited to develop a new generation of talented youngsters led by rookie fullback Sualauvi Faalogo

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"We have brought some young guys in, they've done a really good job for us," Bellamy told reporters on Friday morning. "We get a chance to see a couple other young blokes this week, we've got a couple of injuries. 

"It's always interesting to see those guys come in, how they handle it. I'm confident they'll do a good job for us."

Faalogo will make his first start as Storm fullback in Saturday night's top-of-the-table clash with the Sharks at AAMI Park.

The 21-year-old comes into the role in place of injured star Ryan Papenhuyzen, who suffered a fractured fibula last weekend. 

Faalogo has already scored three tries in two NRL appearances and has been tipped by many to enjoy a long and successful career. 

Born in Samoa, he grew up in Melbourne before progressing through the Storm's junior pathway.

Boom rookie Sualauvi Faalogo will make his first start at fullback for the Storm on Saturday.
Boom rookie Sualauvi Faalogo will make his first start at fullback for the Storm on Saturday. ©NRL Photos

Bellamy is expecting Cronulla halfback Nicho Hynes to launch an aerial barrage at the young fullback but backed Faalogo to thrive under pressure. 

"I've got all the confidence in the world with Sua, especially under the high ball," Bellamy said. "He was brought up in Victoria playing AFL so hopefully he'll be good under the high balls."

Bellamy has developed into one of the most successful coaches in the NRL since taking over the Storm in 2003. He has led the team in 555 games, winning 387 at an impressive 70% winning rate while also clinching three premierships (2012, 2017 and 2020) and five minor premierships (2011, 2016, 2017, 2019 and 2021).

In addition to Melbourne's on-field success, Bellamy has successfully navigated the departure of a host of stars without results falling away, with the likes of Greg Inglis, Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk, Billy Slater and the Bromwich brothers moving to other clubs or retiring throughout the past decade.

Craig Bellamy coached his 500th NRL game in 2022.
Craig Bellamy coached his 500th NRL game in 2022. ©NRL Photos

The coach has developed a new generation of players to maintain sustained success, with Harry Grant, Cameron Munster, Papenhuyzen and Jahrome Hughes helping the team to second on the ladder after 10 rounds this season.

The announcement provides certainty for the playing group and coaching staff as Storm officials plan for 2025 and beyond. 

“Craig is coaching as well as he ever has and is not showing any signs of slowing down,” Storm chairman Matt Tripp said.

“He has a great support base with his assistant coaches and high-performance staff which gives Craig the chance to focus on what he has done extremely well for 22 seasons at Storm.

“In our opinion, Craig is the best coach to have ever coached in the NRL and we were prepared to give him as long as he needed to decide if 2024 was to be his last in charge.

“His approach to this season has shown he has plenty left to offer and we are extremely happy he will be leading this team again in 2025.”

Acknowledgement of Country

Melbourne Storm respect and honour 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.