After twelve games, the halfway point of the 2015 season, the Melbourne Storm sit at 8-4 in third place on the NRL ladder.
It’s been an exciting year to date, lots of close finishes mixed in with some big wins and deflating losses. Three of the four losses to date have been by either 1 or 2 points. With a bounce of the ball or a changed decision or two, the Storm could easily be 11-1 and well clear on top, a luxury that would be invaluable at this time of the year.
Injuries and suspensions to key players have taken their toll, as is the Origin period. Crisis creates opportunity and the Storm have had the opportunity to look at some youngsters and players in different positions.
Player of the year: Tough one, there have been many players that have stood out. The big three have been solid as usual, as has Kevin Proctor. However for mine, Jessie Bromwich has been the player of the year. Turns up every week and lays a great platform. Big and athletic for a front-rower. The player we can least afford to lose in the run to the finals.
Recruit of the year: Also a tough choice, between two players. Dale Finucane has slotted straight in and barely put a foot wrong, aside from some trouble with the match review panel. He does come a close second to Blake Green though. Green provides an excellent foil for Cooper Cronk, something that has been missing since the departure of Gareth Widdop. Played his best game of the season on the weekend against Penrith when Cronk was injured, instilling confidence that we can cover the loss of Cronk through that injury.
Rookie of the year: Injury to Billy Slater has given boom youngster Cameron Munster a go and he hasn’t let the side down at all. Possesses all the qualities needed, pace, courage and postions himself really well defensively. Big shoes to fill but doing it admirably.
Best game: While not the biggest win, the Round 1o 16-12 win over South Sydney was full of guts and determination. Up against a good side that applied enormous pressure, particularly in the second half where the Storm did not score but bunkered down the defence and hung on for a win that will count a lot at the business end of the season. The Rabbitohs seemed to get the run of the green from the officials which made the job just that little bit harder.
Worst game: This one is easy, following Origin 1 the Storm went up to Sydney to play the Roosters, a side they do not have a good record against in recent years. What followed was one of the most listless displays the boys on purple have put on in years, ending in a 24-2 loss. In reality the Roosters played well enough to put on 50 points, while the Storm’s only points came via a penalty goal after the half-time hooter had sounded.
Next 6 weeks: The Origin period really takes hold for this period. Back to back home games (vs Parramatta and Brisbane) either side of Origin 2 are followed by away games to the Bulldogs and Warriors either side of the second bye and Origin 3. A rare home Friday night game against Penrith follows and then the home game versus the Dragons, which has been shifted to Napier in New New Zealand.
The performance in this next quarter of the season may determine just how serious their premiership credentials are.