A year after being deducted of 8 points and excluded from receiving any premiership points for the rest of the season; being fined $1.689m; and stripped of their 2007 and 2009 premierships and 2006, 2007 and 2008 minor premierships, the Melbourne Storm are back and primed for the a run at the flag.
In 2010, The Age referred the salary cap breach story as “the biggest scandal in Australian sports history”. The Storm lost several key players from their list including Greg Inglis (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Brett Finch (Wigan Warriors), Ryan Hoffman (Wigan Warriors), Dallas Johnson (North Queensland Cowboys), and Aiden Tolman (Canterbury Bulldogs) and several board members.
However, the Storm has hit back hard and is positioned nicely to claim the 2011 premiership. Coach Craig Bellamy has put the clubs revival down to attitude and mental strength, and camaraderie in the clubrooms.
Adding to the thoughts of Bellamy, Melbourne’s lesser known players have stepped up big this year to support Billy Slater, Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk.
The Melbourne Storm currently sits at the top of the ladder with 14 wins from 17 games played and has the best scores for and against record. Last week the Storm traveled to the capital city to take on the green machine – they walked away as the only team to keep Canberra scoreless, 26-0.
Sterlo – league great and ex-Footy Show star – ranks Melbourne as the third best chance for the flag behind St. George Illawarra and Manly; he places Brisbane fourth. I agree with Sterlo that these are the only teams who can challenge for the premiership, however, the Melbourne Storm in my opinion have the mindset that nothing will get in their way and that that mental toughness will play a major role in the final weeks of the 2011 season.
This week Melbourne host Brisbane in what will more than likely be Darren Lockyer’s final game in Melbourne; in round 25, the Storm go head to head against Manly in what may be a premiership preview.
The city of Melbourne is set for a big year of celebrations with Victorian teams winning the AFL and NRL premierships.
Do you agree or disagree?