Thursday, 14 February 2013

Season Review - Melbourne Storm (2011)

With the tragedy of 2010 firmly in their minds, the Storm looked set to right a lot of wrongs in their view, in 2011. They were expected to be like a starved lion that would annihilate anyone and anything that came near it. The need for redemption and to prove everyone wrong was always going to be a major motivation.

After 10 games, Melbourne had won 7. This was the calm before the storm, as they went on to win their next 12 straight games. The run ended in a spiteful encounter at Brookvale Oval which saw a number of players from both their side and opponents Manly suspended for fighting.

Melbourne lost consecutive games for the first time all year, but still managed to reclaim one of their stripped Minor Premierships.

Melbourne accounted for Newcastle in the first week of the finals, in a match where they never looked like they got out of second gear.

They lost the following week they were upset by eventual Grand Finalists New Zealand, yet even though they missed out on a premiership, the Storm did show to themselves, their fans and possibly even other fans, that they really are that good and that they weren't successful because of cheating.

Maybe 2011 could provide a lot of people at the club and its fans some amount of closure for the penalties the club received in 2010 for salary cap breaches.

2011 Comings and Goings

Gains: Maurice Blair (Penrith), Jack Afamasaga (Cronulla), Beau Champion (Souths), Jaiman Lowe (Souths), Troy Thompson (Canberra), Atelea Vea (Cronulla), Sisi Waqa (Souths), Adam Woolnough (retirement)

Losses: Greg Inglis (Souths), Brett White (Canberra), Brett Finch (Wigan), Jeff Lima (Castleford), Ryan Hoffman (Wigan), Aiden Tolman (Canterbury), Willie Isa (Castleford), Hep Cahill (Crusaders).

The Good

After the massive cleanout of quality players due to the salary cap drama's of 2010, the Storm managed to bring through youngsters and sign up good quality replacements, some of whom may have been considered depth players at other clubs. All of them came through and performed their role in the team brilliantly all year, mostly driven by the drama of 2010. But it worked. 19 wins after 22 games shows that Melbourne are ‘that' good and that they don't need a heap of big name players to be a dominant side.

The Bad

Adam Blair's brain snap at Brookvale proved to be very costly. Not only did the Storm lose the game, but the suspension of some of their players saw them lose their next game and their momentum they had worked so hard to create. They had run out of time to try and regain the momentum and sure enough the lost to a red hot Warriors side in week 2 of the finals.

Turning Point

Round 25 at Brookvale – that stupid fight cost Melbourne a win, it's momentum and a chance to win the premiership. End of story.

Best Players

Billy Slater – it's remarkable how someone so good every year can keep on getting better, but that's exactly what Slater did. He is fast becoming one of the greatest fullbacks to ever play the game and he looks like he is still getting better.

Cameron Smith also turned in a great year and has become so consistently good he's almost become impossible to contain. Every team this year tried and failed, at all levels. He is clearly at the top of his game right now.


As much as he made his debut last year (played 3 games), Gareth Widdop was one the three best performing players at the Storm in 2011. He linked up with Smith, Cronk and Slater so quickly, easily and naturally, it was almost as if they'd all been playing footy together since they were in diapers. In earlier years he had been more at home at fullback but in 2011 he became a genuine world class five-eighth.

Rory Kostjasyn played 6 games in 2010 but became a genuinely good replacement hooker and half in 2011 and will be a vital player for the club during the Origin period again in 2012.


The Storm have again focussed on keeping their spine intact and building a solid team around them. They have lost a number of players for 2012, most notably Adam Blair, but have again recruited well, picking up former player Ryan Hoffman and Rooster Jason Ryles, who will be looking to resurrect his career after a poor time in Bondi. Melbourne will be the top dog in 2012, despite not being premiers. They will continue to be the yardstick and will again be hard to stop. They only way they were stopped in 2011, was by the stupidity of one of their own players.

That's how good they are.

2012 Comings and Goings

Gains: Ryan Hoffman (Wigan), Shea Moylan (Brisbane), Jason Ryles (Sydney), Mitchell Garbutt (Wests Newcastle)

Losses: Chase Stanley (St.George-Illawarra), Beau Champion (Gold Coast), Adam Blair (Wests Tigers), Atelea Vea (St.George-Illawarra), Adam Woolnough (retired), Troy Thompson (retired), Dane Chisholm (Wests Tigers)

Re-Signed: Billy Slater, Matt Duffie, Kevin Proctor, Ryan Hinchcliffe, Gareth Widdop, Maurice Blair, Sisi Waqa, Bryan Norrie, Rory Kostjasyn, Ken Bromwich, Mahe Fonua.

Best Line-up for 2012

1 – Billy Slater 
2 – Matt Duffie 
3 – Dane Nielsen 
4 – Maurice Blair 
5 – Anthony Quinn 
6 – Gareth Widdop 
7 – Cooper Cronk 
8 – Bryan Norrie 
9 – Cameron Smith 
10 – Jason Ryles
11 – Ryan Hoffman 
12 – Kevin Proctor 
13 – Todd Lowrie
14 – Jaiman Lowe 
15 – Ryan Hinchcliffe
16 – Rory Kostjasyn 
17 – Sika Manu

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