Storm forward Christian Welch.

Eighteen months ago when rising Melbourne prop Christian Welch was off-contract and weighing up a move back to his native Brisbane, the Broncos thought they had him.

That they still think the world of him, even after Craig Bellamy convinced him to stay the course at the Storm, says plenty.

Welch made his mark when he met with Wayne Bennett and CEO Paul White in the Broncos boardroom in early 2017, prompting a serious pursuit from Queensland's flagship club.

Out the other side of Bellamy's own sales pitch, Welch personally rang Brisbane officials for a difficult conversation most leave to their managers.

The courtesy call only raised the esteem Welch is held in north of the border, with the Broncos big wigs keeping in contact when he suffered a gut-wrenching ACL rupture a month later, costing him a spot in the Storm's 2017 grand final win.

Bellamy's faith keeps Welch in Melbourne until the end of next season.

It's also kept him on the paddock for 24 games this season and put him on the fringe of a Queensland Origin call-up, going into Maroons camp as 19th man for game two in Sydney. All after he was ready to make for the green, green grass of Red Hill.

Storm forward Christian Welch.
Storm forward Christian Welch. ©Mark Dadswell/NRL Photos

"I went in for a tough conversation with Craig and in my head I was going back home to Brisbane," Welch told NRL.com.

"That's what I was thinking. For me the big thing was that I wanted to play more minutes, more games and Craig said the chance was there for me.

"I went up to Brisbane and met Wayne and as much as my mum would've loved for me to have gone back, and it would've been great for me to be back with Mum and Dad and my cousins and my grandparents, I'm really happy in Melbourne.

"I just couldn't really see a reason to go anywhere else. When you're sitting in those team meetings and you see how guys like Billy (Slater), Cam (Smith) and Cooper (Cronk) analyse specific plays, they'll get up front and deconstruct how we conceded a try.

"Just being a fly on the wall for that since I've arrived here at 18, I've learnt so much.

"Before coming to the Storm I don't think I realised how much I didn't know about rugby league - those one percenters that really do make all the difference in a game."

The wider rugby league public meanwhile is starting to learn just how much there is to Welch.

The 24-year-old will enrol at Harvard come October, joining veteran teammate Ryan Hoffman for a short course in Effective Negotiation Skills.

Christian Welch at the 2018 Emerging Maroons camp.
Christian Welch at the 2018 Emerging Maroons camp. ©Scott Davis/NRL Photos

His résumé already boast a Bachelor of Commerce and some day he'd like to have Dave Donaghy's job as Storm CEO.

But come November he will represent himself as he comes off-contract and onto the radar of Melbourne's rivals.

"It's a process I think I'll do by myself, I don't have a manager at the moment," Welch says.

"I'm pretty excited about it. I engaged a manager last time to do the contract, paid him a fixed fee to negotiate over a couple of months and he did a great job.

"This time around I think I'm mature enough to have those conversations with Frank (Ponissi) and the Storm.

"For some guys managers are great and do a lot, but for a player like me, I'm realistic enough to know I'm not going to be in-demand for The Footy Show.

"A manager for someone like me is someone you go to come contract time and they find you a pair of boots to play in each weekend, I'm keen to give it a crack."

 

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