“It’s kind of weighing up whether there is more room to grow at another club and whether I’ve potentially reached my ceiling here.
“Or whether there is an opportunity to stay here and continue to pursue not only the team goals but the individual goals I’ve got.”
But the Storm have several elite forwards led by Jesse Bromwich, and while they have Welch developing as part of their emerging leaders’ program, the likelihood he ever gets to captain the club or hold a starting prop position looks slim at present.
So Welch, who plans to negotiate his own contract, is honest about how he will assess his options once it comes time to make a decision later in the season.
“I’m a realist. You do look better as a player with the better forwards beside you,” Welch said.
“I’ve been blessed to play beside such a really talented forward pack over the years. I’m realistic. I understand that.
“You want to play more but I’ve also won a lot of games at the Storm. It’s a great club and a great feeling to be a part of. I think I’m at 75 per cent [games won] during my time at the club.”
Welch is expected to be in the side when the Storm run out against Canterbury Bulldogs at AAMI Park on Sunday. He has regularly come off the bench to relieve the likes of Bromwich or Nelson Asofa-Solomona.
While Welch describes himself more as a defensive workhorse, he could be a valuable signing for many clubs who need a dependable leader in their forward pack, especially one who has developed in one of the most successful teams in the NRL.
Welch has watched teammates leave in recent seasons and taken interest in how they have progressed. Tim Glasby and Slade Griffin left for Newcastle in the past two seasons and both have done well.
Others such as Kevin Proctor or Tohu Harris have moved on but ended up on struggling sides.
“It’s tough for those guys and in a system like the Storm you come across as a really strong player whereas at times when other teams are struggling you might not look as good,” Welch said.
“But some guys have taken those big opportunities. Slade Griffin is one I look at. He switched clubs and played for his country [New Zealand] last year and had a really strong year before unfortunately injuring himself.”
Welch hopes he can perform well in the next month or so before looking over his options.
It’s a pivotal moment in his career but he won’t rush into anything.
“I’ve had a few discussions [with other clubs] but I want to get through another month or so,” Welch said.
“It’s pretty early in the season for those decisions.
“It’s about performing my role for the team and hopefully playing all right.”
The Storm play the Bulldogs at AAMI Park on Sunday at 4.05pm.
Roy Ward is a Sports writer for The Age.