The timing of this may seem a little strange considering the Storm have lost two of their past three matches, but as it stands, the rampant purple haze look as though they’re in a position to create NRL history.
The retirement of club, Origin and international superstar Billy Slater has added even more motivation for the 2017 Premiers to do something that no club in the NRL era has been able to do … record back to back premiership victories.
Not since the Broncos in 1997/98 has a team won back to back competitions.
Not since the Broncos in 1992/93 has a team won back to back full competitions.
Brisbane’s 97 win was the Super League Grand Final victory over the Sharks. Although there can be little doubt they were the most destructive team across either competition in 1997, we’ll never know.
History suggests that winning titles two years in a row is extremely difficult. Given the salary cap and the strength of the competition over all, to say a side is at long odds to go back to back is an understatement.
The Roosters went close in 2002/03 making back to back (to back) Grand Finals but not even that incredible side could get it done.
The Cowboys looked the most likely in the modern era after winning the 2015 title. They ran into a history bound Sharks outfit and were bounced one game short of defending their crown.
The Sharks looked an outside shot at best last season after losing Ben Barba and Michael Ennis, but despite the Storm suffering similar losses in the form of Cooper Cronk and Jordan McLean, Melbourne look far more likely to give this a genuine crack.
It would be crazy to write off a side coached by Craig Bellamy and captained by Cameron Smith, but with the loss of their superstar halfback Cronk, as well as Kangaroo’s prop McLean, surely winning consecutive grand finals was beyond even the Storm.
Cronk has moved onto the Roosters and coincidentally looks to be leading the charge for the Storm’s most likely challengers come the last weekend in September.
If the Sharks can ever get it right for more than 45/50 minute they could provide a threat. So too the Bunnies who seem to have fallen off the radar in the past few weeks. You can’t ever count out a side boasting the two current, victorious Origin halves so Penrith are a shot. Who knows what the Warriors and Dragons will produce come finals time.
Wayne Bennett’s shown he knows how to win a premiership or two.
This is in no way a one or two team competition right now, but I’m confident in saying that the Storm are best placed to create history of any side in the modern era.
Yes they lost superstar players but Craig Bellamy has a proud history of replacing said superstars with equally as talented players.
The Storm probably haven’t found their locked in solution for their number seven, but you can’t help but feel it will all magically fall into place come finals football.
Cameron Munster is finding some magical form right now while Billy Slater and Cam Smith are as good as ever. Josh Addo-Carr and Suliasi Vunivalu are scoring tries for fun despite probably not being as lucky opportunities wise as they were in 2017.
Nelson Asofa-Solomona has added a different dimension to the Storm attack in 2018. He is even more destructive now than he was in their premiership winning 2017 season.
I’m going to discuss in the next day or two the closeness of this competition, but for me it’s the Storm and the former Storm halfback who hold the keys to the 2018 title race.
We all know that the Storm know how to win in the face of adversity. That will be huge come September. They’re going to need to, given the recent suspension to Will Chambers and the on going controversy he seems to attract almost weekly.
Bennett may have the titles on record but Bellamy is the game’s elite coach right now. He will find a way to lift this side, who currently lead the competition without having reached their best form yet.
Only the Raiders and Bunnies, who enjoyed a large winning streak throughout Origin, have scored more points than Melbourne, while only the Roosters have conceded less. That combines for the best differential across the competition.
Simply put the Storm are worthy ladder leaders with two games to go and are in a position to take their red hot crack at creating history.