SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 01: Cooper Cronk, Cameron Smith and Billy Slater of the Storm pose with the Provan-Summons Trophy after winning the 2017 NRL Grand Final match between the Melbourne Storm and the North Queensland Cowboys at ANZ Stadium on October 1, 2017 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Predicted Finish: 2nd

Actual Finish: 1st

Best Performer: Cameron Smith

Another season, another plethora of rugby league records. I’ve seen enough to state right now, that Cameron Smith is the best player I’ve ever seen. EVER!!! Johns and Lockyer were great, Meninga and Fittler very good, but Cameron Smith is an absolute genius. Cam Smith has racked up some of the most impressive numbers and stats in the history of the game, but he’s a player who transcends stats. No one can measure the influence the future immortal has on every team he plays in. He creates plenty of tries, makes a mountain of tackles, but it is his vision that is unmatched. How many times do the likes of Cronk or Munster create something out wide due to simple numbers? Smith is the man who creates those numbers. A Dally M medal and Golden Boot were just reward for arguably the greatest player of all time’s greatest year yet.

Season Highlight: Grand Final redemption

The two-point Grand Final loss in 2016 could have had a very negative effect on the Storm. Clubs have lost Grand Finals by narrow margins and have fallen away as a result. Then again, this Storm outfit is not like any other ordinary team. Not only did they overcome any demons stemming from the loss, they buried them!!! Make no mistake, the Storm was not losing the 2017 Grand Final. They decided that the second they returned to pre-season training for 2017, and nobody was able to stop them. As a contest, the 2017 Grand Final was an absolute nightmare, but in terms of what the Storm deserved, they delivered in spades. No team deserved a huge Grand Final triumph like this side. You’d be a braver man than I am to bet against a third straight Grand Final appearance next year too.

Best Signing: Patrick Kaufusi

Craig Bellamy has an unmatched record when it comes to signing solid NRL players and turning them into stars. He turned Cronulla reserve grader Bryan Norrie into a premiership-winning prop, he’s made Addo Carr a genuine NSW bolter, the list goes on. I’m really excited to see what he can do with 23-year-old Patrick Kaufusi. The former Cowboy has plenty of aggression and talent, and I’m willing to bet that he is a far improved player by this time next year. Jordan McLean has exited meaning there is a prop position available. I would not at all be surprised if Kaufusi is slotted straight in.

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Positives

Massive re-signings: Whenever a side tastes success, player value goes up and inevitably stars are lost to other sides who can afford to pay more. The Cowboys managed to avoid the purge, the Sharks have done pretty well, and the Storm have continued the trend in that they’ve managed to retain a majority of their stars. Cooper Cronk, Tohu Harris and Jordan McLean have exited the club, but they’ve managed to re-sign the likes of Addo Carr, Asofa-Solomona, Blair, Chambers, Bromwich (x2), Finucane, Kaufusi, Vunivalu, Jacks, Croft and Slater. That’s incredible work from the Storm recruitment and retention team. There were plenty of clubs interested in most, if not all of the aforementioned players but all chose to extend their tenure with the now defending premiers.

One more year for Billy: It was probably never in doubt but Billy Slater has decided on one more season at the Storm. It would have been a shame to lose two members of the famous ‘big three’ in one hit, Slater’s re-signing prevents this. Although going out with a Grand Final victory would be been perfect and well deserved, there is plenty left in the Storm, Queensland and Kangaroos superstar number one yet. He had a magical World Cup and was among the Storm’s best all season.

Pretty much everything: The Storm won the Minor Premiership by a mile. They ran riot on Grand Final day and flogged the in-form side of the competition. They sent Cooper Cronk out a champion, re-signed possible future immortal Billy Slater, and I had to literally google their last loss. 2017 was as close to a perfect season as you can achieve in modern-day rugby league. Often you see sides dominate for weeks or even months, but the Storm dominated from day one till the first day in October.

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Season Grading: A+

How else can you put it other than the Storm were dominant and deserving 2017 premiers!? Literally from round one where they beat the Bulldogs at Belmore, until their 34-6 drubbing of the red-hot Cowboys on Grand Final day, the Storm were head and shoulders above the rest.

They lost only four games across the entire season, and one of those was a golden point loss to the Roosters during Origin. They only lost two non-Origin effected games, by a total combined points total of 11. That is pure insanity.

There was no weakness in this 2017 Storm outfit. From 1-17 they were among the best in the competition, with the best number nine of all time pulling the strings.

Felise Kaufusi had a magical season which led to his selection in the Kangaroos side for the World Cup tournament. Dale Finucane is arguably the most underrated forward in the game. Vunivalu would be right up there in terms of the best wingers in the world right now. Will Chambers is the first centre picked at every level of the game.

The Storm managed to turn Josh Addo-Carr from an occasional first grader into arguably the most exciting outside back in the game. I lost count of how many times I found myself standing in amazement after yet another freakish Addo-Carr break and/or try.

Simply put I can’t remember a better side than the 2017 Storm outfit. They’re A+ in defence, they’re A+ in attack, their recruitment is A+. For mine, Craig Bellamy has FAR surpassed Bennett as the best coach of the modern era. The way he finds, develops and unleashed freakish talents with regularity is astounding.

If there were a higher grade that A+ the Storm would have it for 2017. Magical.

16 COMMENTS

  1. You’ve given far too much credit to Bellamy. Storm Football Manager Frank Ponissi is in charge of recruitment and retention at the Storm, Bellamy just coaches the team Ponissi puts together for him, and even then when the going gets tough he hands the coaching duties to Cameron Smith http://www.smh.com.au/rugby-league/league-news/craig-bellamy-says-cameron-smith-took-over-as-coach-at-halftime-in-preliminary-final-win-20170922-gyna19.html

    As for Bellamy getting the best out of his players, for every Bryann Norrie I can give you a George Rose or Tom Leahroyd-Lars who did nothing under Bellamy. Nate Myles played Origin last year, signed for the Storm mid season and became a reserve grader under Bellamy.

    • I think players like Jaiman Lowe, Maurice Blair, Dayne Weston, Blake Green, Junior Sau and big Adam wooly Woolnough all thrived under Bellamy. There is no doubting that a lot of players reach their potential at the Storm, if that has something to do with the simple instructions they have, or a master coach? Who knows but I will be watching Sam Kasiano this year with interest because it is rare Melbourne actually pursue someone with a large offer.

  2. Your kidding. No coach got much out of Rose or Leahroyd-Lars. He has certainly had far more success then failure. No club losses more stars each season then the Storm yet they continue to be successful. He must be doing something right.

      • 2015, one game for the Storm, retiring due to “long tem injury” at season end. Maybe he was out of juice when he got there.

        • Nope, he played most of 2015 for the Sunshine Coast Falcons and was only 29, Bellamy turned him into a reserve grader like he did with Nate Myles. The fact is Bryann Norrie is the only player over the age of 25 who signed with the Storm and become a better player, there are more players who have either stayed the same or gone backwards under Bellamy then there are who have improved under him. I use the age of 25 as a cutoff because players under 25 get better by default with more experience, more off seasons in the gym etc.

    • “No coach got much out of Rose or Leahroyd-Lars”

      George Rose what an athlete! The game needs another George Rose. Miss you champ!

  3. Jason Ryles, played better at the Storm then the Dragons. Who do you think he should have dropped for Myles, whom I believe you are saying was in such startling form.

    • Lol wrong again mate, Ryles played 8 games for NSW and 15 games for Aus while he was at the Dragons, number of rep jerseys earned while playing at the Storm? Zero. You just provided another example of a player not doing anything under Bellamy 🙂

        • The NSW selectors disagree with you, the Australian selectors disagree with you…..those guys know a lot more about footy than you do. It’s pretty hard to argue against 23 rep jerseys at the Dragons vs zero rep jerseys at the Storm, the evidence is overwhelming

          As for Myles, I’ll make a shock call now – Slade Griffin is not going to play 32 Origins and 9 games for Australia, it’s pretty clear Nate Myles is a better player than him, well at least he was until Bellamy turned him into a reserve grader.

        • sammy, loathe as I am to come between 2 Storm supporters having an internal difference of opinion but…

          “Nate Myles is a better player… Bellamy turned him into a reserve grader.”

          Trust me he was a “reserve grader” from his last year at the Titans right through to his brief cameo for the Sea Eagles. Like the “angry eagle” once said, any mongrel and fight that Myles had in him was lost when Gallen put one on his chin and dropped him in SOO. He has never been the same player since.

  4. I have said this before , Craig Bellamy is the best NRL , rugby league coach in the history of the code, better than Jack Gibson and all the other great coaches, my opinion, but every year his team loses players and yet they are always the team to beat the bloke is unreal.

  5. Nat Myles for mine didn’t offer much in 2017 (despite injury) so he would be one of the rare exceptions but there is every reason to expect a big year from Kasiano in 2018. I would play him off the bench for impact but his mins have to go up which means his fitness has to increase to give him a bigger motor.

    There are few forwards in the NRL who are capable of changing a game as quickly as Big Sam. For a big man he has good hands and a deft passing game with a pass selection that looks more at place in the halves than plowing through the middle third. This asset has never been fully explored or utilitised IMO. When he sets his mind to it it is simply impossible to stop him offloading the ball and the Storm have a proven track record of exploiting second phase play better than any team in the competition although this time they will have to do so without Cooper Cronk.

    I also think that Ryan Hoffman will find his missing mojo and Felise Kaufusi will continue to grow as a player to replace the void left by Tohu Harris (whose form I fear will go into a downward spiral at the Warriors). Brodie Croft and Cameron Munster will continue to build their understanding as a halves pairing and guided by Cam Smith up front and Billy Slater behind the lines they will still make up one of the most formidable spines in the competition. Clearly the Storm will be one of the teams to beat in 2018.

    • Posted in the wrong place, this was meant to be under: jayy12 December 20, 2017 at 11:14 pm

      To the “brains trust”: K3F3! (giggles/”the invisible Hyena), easts75 (Pagliacci – the sad clown), kelby (Kelpie), HereComeTheRoosters (“the feathered Chihuahua”) , Holyhandgrenade (“dud grenade”)

      Any thoughts relevant to RL on the above? I’m interested to see if between the lot of you you can come up with one solid relevant insightful opinion about the game.

  6. So Sammy, let me get this right. You pick on statistics not form. Once a good player always a good player. Is that right.

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