MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 01: Cameron Smith and Billy Slater of the Storm pose for a photo during the Melbourne Storm Fan Day at Gosch's Paddock on October 1, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Could this be the year?

It seems like every pre-season in the past four or five seasons that fans, such as myself, jump to the conclusion that THIS is the year where the Melbourne Storm come back to the pack.

No, we’re not expecting the Storm to run last, or even come close to missing the eight, but surely 2019 is the year that the mighty Melbourne Storm are no longer top four certainties?


Ok so last season I predicted that the Storm would come second. Not exactly a fall, but the season prior (the season they literally won the premiership) I think I had them sneaking into the eight.

To predict where they could finish this season, be sure to check out bet calculator to determine where Melbourne could finish and the winnings associated.

The season prior (Grand final loss to the Sharks) I had them finishing ninth. I was not the only one.

The Storm managed to overcome the loss of one of the top two halfbacks of this generation to make a Grand Final. It’s no coincidence that Cooper Cronk (that very halfback) was the man who lead his new side, the Roosters, to victory over the Storm.

This is a side who is able to find stars out of nowhere. No side in recent NRL has been able to replace departing stars with such talent quite like the Melbourne Storm.

That said, there have been three constants in Melbourne in recent memory.

Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater.

2019 is the first season, in many many years, the purple of the Storm will run out sans two of their biggest stars.

Billy Slater was absolutely magnificent in 2018 despite it being his last season.

He’s going to be near impossible to replace.

The Storm did pretty well in 2018 after seeing their superstar halfback in Cooper Cronk move on however they’re still searching for their number seven.

Brodie Croft wore the number seven in the Grand Final and had an above average season but he spent the season swapping the seven jersey with Ryley Jacks.

With Jacks having moved onto the Titans, Croft is now the only real ready-made option at seven.

In terms of replacing the retired Billy Slater, the Storm have two main options. The first being Jahrome Hughes, who has a handful of NRL games to his name already and probably leads the charge.

The other main option is youngster Scott Drinkwater. The QLD residents fullback has all the talent in the world and could be a genuine bolter for round one.

There’s always a chance that Cameron Munster shifts back to the one given he has very publicly stated his desire to reclaim the fullback role.

Any potential shift to fullback for Munster would really lessen the hurt felt by Slaters retirement but would leave the Storm with two young halves.

Then there’s the criminally understated situation where Cameron Smith is yet to re-sign for 2019 and beyond yet.

Although it’s considered a foregone conclusion that he will play on, the fact that we’re entering a new year without a signed contract must have a few Storm fans worried.

Smith had, half jokingly, floated the idea of possible retirement at the end of 2018. Although it seemed very tongue in cheek, this is also the player who decided to hang up the boots for Queensland on minimal notice.

No one really saw that coming so perhaps it wouldn’t be the craziest event, certainly not in this off-season.

So the Storm will certainly enter 2019 sans two of the three players who combined to make them the best team of the modern generation. Cam Smith’s future isn’t yet decided, and the Storm will line up in round one with a rookie fullback or half.

Not ideal.

That said, given the ability of Craig Bellamy, Hughes and Drinkwater will likely be full time rep footballers by mid-season.

The betting agencies have the Storm finishing top four. The Roosters and Bunnies are the clear favourites however the Storm still top the likes of the Broncos, Panthers and Sharks in terms of most likely to challenge the two Sydney powerhouses.

Although predicting the 2019 table in 2018 is akin to blinding throwing a dart, many seem to have the Storm dropping from the top four, some even the eight.

I’m certainly not willing to go that far just yet but surely the Storm can’t keep their amazing run after losing the best fullback of the modern generation?


They’ve only added three reserve graders to their squad while they’ve lost Slater, Glasby, Hoffman and Jacks.

I should know better than to bet against the Storm but the Roosters have gotten stronger, the Bunnies now have a multiple time Premiership winning coach, the Panthers have consistency off-season, the Sharks have signed Shaun Johnson.

The Storm have, on paper, fallen away quite severely.

They’ll still make the eight but the almost guaranteed run to the Grand Final may be a little bit more difficult than in the past three seasons.


  1. 2018 was an average year for the Storm, but they managed to make the GF due to the fact that there was only one other good consistent team this year in the Rorters. 2019 will be interesting

  2. 1. Hughes
    2. Vunivalu
    3. Scott
    4. Chambers
    5. Addo-Carr
    6. Munster
    7. Croft
    8. J. Bromwich
    9. Smith
    10. Welch
    11. Stimson
    12. Kaufusi
    13. Finucane

    14. Smith
    15. NAS
    16. K. Bromwich
    17. Seve

    Definitely missing a few names. Would sign Cam Smith to a 1 year and then replace him with Brandon Smith.
    Must have some salary cap space with Hoffman, Glasby, Jacks and Slater all gone and no huge signings. Maybe big Joe Ofahungue would come south to work with Bellamy. Young Corey Jenson may leave the big Cowboys pack to get some game time at the Storm. And lastly Fa’amanu Brown could be a shout as a back up halve hooker type player that’ll be handy come origin time. He’s never lived up to the hype but Bellamy could get the best out of him.

  3. I have said it before too. They will come back to the pack now provided the refs keep the whistle in their mouths rather than handing it over to assistant referee smith. C’mon NRL your blatant bias towards Melbourne has to end one day!

  4. Yes the Storm is not as strong on paper anymore , the one thing that keeps them competitive hasn’t changed and that thing is Bellamy. He is the best coach ever in my opinion. With the same team on the field but with a different coach the Storm would struggle to be a top 4 team now.

  5. They will continue to finish top 4.
    The NRL has invested to much time and money in the storm for them to drop down the table.
    For some stupid reason the NRL still believes we need a successful team in AFL heartland. For that reason I have them finishing top 3 and will go on to win the premiership.

  6. Still looks like a Very good side to me, They have only really lost Slater and Glasby, Glasby is easy to replace but Slater is impossible to match. They have a grand final half back that will be motivated never to feel the pain of grand final defeat again. Melbourne has good replacments and if they miss the four then they come 5th at worse scenario for me. That team mentioned above will knock over quite a few good sides. Remember they have an excellent coach and in the past 6 seasons he has got them into 4 Grand Finals,

    My prediction 4th

  7. 2006 Gf Lost
    2007 Gf won
    2008 Gf Lost
    2009 Gf won

    2012 Gf won
    2016 Gf Lost
    2017 Gf won
    2018 Gf Lost
    2019 Gf ???

  8. 1 Munster
    2 Vunivalu
    3 Chambers
    4 Scott
    5 Addo-Carr
    6 Drinkwater
    7 Croft
    8 Bromwich
    9 Smith
    10 Asofa-Solomona
    11 Kaufusi
    12 Stimson
    13 Finucane

    14 Smith
    15 Welch
    16 Bromwich
    17 Vete / Kasiano

    We won’t be in the top 4 this year but I still think we will end up around 5th, An will still give any team a shake. Look out in the next few years to come though if we can keep all our quality young players coming through together. We will be in good hands

  9. On paper still a top 8 team, but like every side only a few key injuries away from a horrible season.
    I think Storms prolonged success is due to the fact they always seem to have a good young replacement ready and rarely have to go pay overs for a big name player from elsewhere.

    Also here is a team made up of current NRL players who have previously played for Melbourne showing how the salary cap is working.
    1. G. Widdop
    2. B. Hampton
    3. M. Fonua
    4. J. O’Neill
    5. K. Mann
    6. B. Green
    7. C. Cronk
    8. T. Glasby
    9. S. Griffin
    10. J. MacLean
    11. T. Harris
    12. K. Procter
    13. A. Blair
    I have not included Greg Inglis cos of the whole salary cap cheating thing.
    Can any other team name a more impressive starting 13 than this?

  10. If Smith plays on it will obviously be for the money, not the club, and not for Rugby League, so, good luck with that Melbourne.

    If Cooper extends it will be only to do Smith out of the most club games record. I love their little tussle going on. And good luck with that Eauffs.

  11. Broncos Maybe. And with the exception of a couple of players they developed them all. You could even argue K Ponga as he was with the broncs until he was 18 and switched to the Cowboys.

    C Norman
    J Pearson
    D Copley
    T Moga
    K Beale
    B Hunt
    A Taylor
    J Wallace
    J Granville
    J Arrow
    T Sims
    K Sims
    J McGuire

    H EseEse
    K Baptiste
    C Allen
    K Hipgrave
    J Gavet
    L Maranta
    T Opacic

  12. Oops forgot Gagai, Eastwood, Josh Hoffman, Benji, Reece Robinson, Also B Teo and C Timu running around in rugby too.

  13. Great team, I thought Broncos would be strong but wow. Kinda disappointed no other teams tried to play.

  14. A better question is who gives a toss about the Storm. First or last, Smtih will still get away with murder. And no, the Storm won’t fade, Bellamy can always get the best out of Neville nobody’s.

  15. 1. Sydney
    2. Cowboys
    3. Cronulla
    4. Melbourne
    If Cronulla lose their coach then that will throw a spanner in the works and could go either way, So I would say Newcastle, Brisbane and Saints in no particular order will push for a top four if the Sharks don’t click with the new co coaches/coach.
    Souffths over achieved last season Big Time due to an unknown coach who produced a unique attacking style which caught a lot of other coaches off guard early in the season. But by seasons end they were found out and exposed by the Roosters and a few others. The new kid on the block is no longer the new kid on the block in 2019 at Brisbane and all the good coach’s know what to expect this time around.
    With Bennett the coach that has no defence systems in place these days due to the fact he is way behind the times and should have retired 5yrs ago I highly doubt that they will scape into the Eight. I think Penrith will battle it out for the top eight with a huge improvement from both Wests and Parra pushing them all the way. 😂😁😆🤣😆😁😂😁😆🤣😆😁😂😁😆🤣😆😁😂😁😆🤣😆😁😂😁😆🤣😆😁😂😂😁😆🤣😆😁😂😁😆🤣😆😁😂😁😆🤣😆😁😂😁😆🤣😆😁😂😁😆🤣😆😁😂😂😁😆🤣😆😁😂😁😆🤣😆😁😂😁😆🤣😆😁😂😁😆🤣😆😁😂😁😆🤣😆😁😂

  16. Nice try at damage control wood chuck, but that is the second time you slipped up on this article.

  17. Ha ha we all suspected wood duck had multiple logons but now we know for sure!!! The question now is how many of these rooster user names are the same person? They all seemed to pop up all at once.

  18. You are quite the contortionist Woody, but you will be doing well to squirm yourself out of this one.

  19. Either that or you’ve got bad dementia woody and can’t remember who you are or what you are posting anymore. I suspect its the latter.

  20. Classic Woody. I admire a man who never gives up no matter how far the odds are stacked up against him.

  21. I’m innocent screamineagle, it dosent worry me too much if you believe me or not. But I know one thing for certain next time I run off to the dunny in a hurry and Crower is not in his room. Then I’m going to $h1t in his bed instead of bolting to the lavatory. 😆😁🤣😂😁😆🤣😂😁😆🤣😆😂😁

  22. Look Crower the posh arsse is a classic jokester and he has cornered me into an impossible situation here. But deadest no bull or error, I’m innocent of this magnificent setup. 😁😂😆🤣😆😂😁.

  23. Woodchook, you mention Billy Slater will be impossible to replace but think back a couple of years ago to when he missed pretty much the whole season. Munster replaced him and left many of us with the opinion back then that here was Billy’s replacement waiting in the wings.
    Absolutely no doubt Slater is probably the best fullback the game has seen but no doubt that Munster filled Billy’s shoes when it was called for.
    I’d be surprised if he doesn’t take the number 1 jumper this year.

  24. Pablo
    If you look back at the Storm over their 21 seasons, they’ve only missed the finals 3 times. I’m pretty sure it was 2002 and 2003 when they finished 9th and 10th and then again in 2010 when they were stripped of all points.
    2002/3 were pretty Bellamy and prior to 2002 were 2 earlier coaches. So I’m with Woodchook here, Storm are too consistent even pretty Bellamy and the Big 3. They just have that uncanny ability to bring out the best in their team.

  25. Let’s see if I’ve got this about right.
    You’re saying that a Wascally Wabbit got 1 up on Foghorn Leghorn and made him look like Woody WoodPecker?
    On the plus side, at least we’ve now witnessed a “die hard” Bunnies fan and a die hard Roosters fan agree on something.

  26. Hahaha you lonely loser woodchoock, your Russ account posted the comment before this one, you are an embarrassment to all rooster fans

  27. Back2back19
    January 3, 2019 at 6:36 am
    “Wow back2back, now you are fabricating history to suit yourselves”

    Explain to me how I’m fabricating stories? The rabbits only have 1 premiership since 1971, so that is 1 in 40+ years

    I’ll be waiting pea brain

  28. I will post this on every article until a get answers from the single brain celled penso, I’m sick of her making stuff up and then when proven wrong she never replies

  29. Haha all rooster fans are a embarrassment to the NRL!!!

    Roosters are in the top 5 biggest clubs in the NRL, , they won the comp in 2018 but we’re 13th in membership numbers and it’s not looking much better in 2019

  30. Chopjas, not sure if they’ll be premiers but I think they’ll go close. You can never write off the Storm.
    Wouldn’t put money on the Roosters going back to back though.

  31. At a guess I’d say maybe Jahrome Hughes or Scott Drinkwater. Bellyache will get these kids up to speed, he always seems to.
    I’d be using Munster at fullback for Origin too.

  32. Woodchook, mental health is not something to be taken lightly, i have no doubt you are in a mental health facility , please take care and hopefully your other alter ego’s can disappear with the right help.

  33. gooday gangbangster with a dozen blokes. you souffths people don’t have many brain cells do you. For Cooper Cronk to become the highest club game record Smith must retire immediately and Cronk needs to play on for two seasons. Cronk is currently on 349 games while Smith has 386, Hello Mc✈

Comments are closed.