TWO days after Craig Bellamy insisted he would be retiring at the end of his current contract and 24 hours after confirming the appointment of his newest assistant, premiers Melbourne are again on the lookout for a coach.
Adam O’Brien, the Storm’s development coach, will replace departing Kevin Walters in 2014. As revealed during the week, Bellamy’s other offsider, David Kidwell, is also planning to leave at season’s end. Bellamy has three years left at the club and told Channel Nine on Thursday he would retire at the end of that period.
The club might have thought it had a solid succession plan in place but is now facing the prospect of starting from scratch.
Melbourne football manager Frank Ponissi – in Newcastle for Sunday’s clash with the Knights – declined to comment on Kidwell’s situation, saying it was up to the former New Zealand international to make an announcement on his future. But he said O’Brien’s appointment had been made weeks ago, although it was made public only late last week.
“Pretty much straight away, we appointed Kevvy’s replacement internally,” he said.
A large and competent staff has been a key feature of the Storm during their run of success over the past decade. Officials say that while a restructure taking place, it had no impact on the assistant coaching positions. But the departure of two assistant coaches at the same time will create some instability.
Bellamy told Nine: ”I have three years to go after this year and I don’t see myself going any longer than that. I just think it will be time for someone else to take over. I’d like to think I’ll still be involved in the game somehow, but certainly not as head coach.”
On the field, officials are confident centre Maurice Blair will make his return from a badly jarred neck at Hunter Stadium and is likely to replace Justin O’Neill.
Both sides named five-man benches. Melbourne are shooting for a seventh consecutive win over the Knights, who are desperately trying to stay in the finals race but have been successful in only one of their last four home games.
Filed for: SUNDAY AGE