We’re almost half way through the season previews here, with this being Day 7 where it’ll be the Melbourne Storm who are analysed, scrutinised, praised and critiqued, as they look to win successive premierships.

Without a doubt, in 2012, the Storm were the side that deserved to win the grand final following their impressive display over the Bulldogs – one that saw a lot of players step up to make a difference.

As their opening game of 2013 rolls around, the big question for the Storm will be – can they go back-to-back? In recent years, very few teams have gone back-to-back when it comes to winning premierships, with the task of doing so for the Storm perhaps even harder, as teams look for ways to close them down over the course of the season.

Despite their 2012 premiership win, however, no team is perfect or flawless, as the Storm underwent a bit of player turnover losing experienced players such as Todd Lowrie and Dane Nielsen to the Warriors, Sika Manu to the Panthers and Anthony Quinn to the Knights.

Despite that, the Storm made some keen, astute buys to replace their departing players with solid forward Junior Moors joining the club from the Tigers, former Dragon and Bronco Lagi Setu returning from his 2-year Mormon mission, returning half Brett Finch who enjoyed a previous stint at the Storm and Newcastle Knights centre Junior Sa’u.

Whilst neither of the players that they signed are household names, they will all play a roll for the Storm in their quest for successive premierships, particularly during the tough Origin period.

The players signed may well become key, influential figures at the club because of Craig Bellamy, the Melbourne Storm coach, who has an uncanny knack of turning a player that isn’t living up to potential or released by their former clubs, and turning them into a solid player who makes the first-grade side consistently.
You only have to look at past players to see the effect Bellamy has in that regard, with the now retired Jaiman Lowe enjoying a successful stint at the Storm, former Knights prop Bryan Norrie who was working at a bar as a waiter/bartender at one stage, and Maurice Blair, who was let go by Penrith and is first cab off the rank during the Origin period to some capacity.

Moving on from the way that Bellamy transforms players into solid first-graders, the period of time that always brings some doubt into Storm fans, is that of the infamous Origin period.
With the Storm’s three strike players in Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith all certainties to fill in for QLD, the key for Melbourne over that 2-3 month period is how will the players filling in step up. Will they be able to step up and fill the void left by those playing Origin?
Or, will we see the Storm struggle during that period, with players unable to work cohesively together without the influence of their top players.

In saying that, outside of the Origin period, it could be argued that the Storm have the best spine in the game – with the inclusion of five-eighth Gareth Widdop, who is starting to form dangerous partnerships on the left hand side with the Storm forwards, as he too continually improves his game.
Widdop, who is English, is slowly becoming a key factor for the Storm in all of their games, but will be called upon to lead from the front in the Origin period, a role that will be made easier for him with the arrival of veteran half Brett Finch.

Fresh off their win against Leeds in the World Club Challenge, the Storm will be looking to start their season on a high against the Dragons – but the Australian teams who participate in the WCC can, at times, start the season in a bit of lethargic manner, something that the Storm can ill-afford at the start of the year.

On that note, if there’s one thing that you know about the Storm, it’s that you never discount them out of any game or any title race in general, as they showed last year – when many thought they were down and out following a run of poor games and losses, only to bounce back when it mattered, ultimately winning the premiership.

Overall, a side that has three of the best players in their respective positions in the game, a side with great experience overall from players like Jason Ryles, Ryan Hoffman, as well as a side with promising youngsters like Tohu Harris, Young Tonumaipea and Denny Solomona, they will once again be a force to be reckoned with.

Just on Harris, following an impressive display in the World Club Challenge, he may well start the year from the bench for the Storm, in light of an open position available there.
If you had to pick any one current Storm youngster to make a name for himself in 2013, that would be Harris and with the way he performed in the WCC, you wouldn’t put it past him to perform for the Storm over the course of the season.

1. Billy Slater
2. Mahe Fonua
3. Justin O’Neill
4. Will Chambers
5. Sisa Waqa
6. Gareth Widdop
7. Cooper Cronk
8. Jason Ryles
9. Cameron Smith
10. Jesse Bromwich
11. Ryan Hoffman
12. Lagi Setu
13. Ryan Hinchcliffe

14. Bryan Norrie
15. Siosaia Vave
16. Junior Moors
17. Tohu Harris

Storm’s Rookie of the Year: Tohu Harris.

By ricky

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.