Record: 20 wins, 4 losses
Ladder Position: 1st (2017 Premiers)
Player of the Year: Cameron Smith
The season for the Melbourne Storm was a phenomenal display for its entire duration, being able to convincingly be the best team all year. Backing up from falling short in grand final in 2016 the Storm were able to claim the Provan-Summons trophy this year as well as minor premiership to send their clubs favourite halfback Cooper Cronk out on a high and showing why they are still a juggernaut club in rugby league.
The 2017 season wasn’t without its injuries and resting of players as the Storm have come accustom to. Fresh faces being added to the side the Melbourne team took a new approach flexing their depth at the right times and appointing new opportunities to young players who stepped up to help the Storm claim their third premiership, all while their skipper Cameron Smith knocked over huge milestones and picked up the Dally M award.
The Storm posted 20 wins for 4 losses during the regular season and only two of those losses were with their full strength side available, presenting how dominant they had been all season and the ability to rest and pace their run to the finals and premiership glory to perfection. The test now for the Melbourne Storm will be devising combinations and keeping a core group of talent to phase in a new era with Cooper Cronk retiring and others to follow in coming seasons.
Smith Steers Melbourne to Premiership
Cameron Smith has solidified his position as one of the game’s greatest with an amazing 2017 season captaining his club, state and country to success. The Melbourne Storms recent dominance over the past three years making two grand finals and a preliminary Smith was able to go to another level picking up the Dally M medal for his second time and lead the Storm to their third title and back-to-back minor premierships.
The Melbourne number nine was outstanding in both attack and defence throughout the year making 890 tackles with 13 try assists which is exceptional considering the workload in the middle of the field for 80 minutes each week.
The control that Smith had over all matches he played in was nothing short of miraculous and showed how smart a football player he is, how he has matured between the seasons to now become the best rugby league player in the game currently and potentially ever.
Bellamy One of the Best
After heartbreak of going close to a premiership in the past two seasons Craig Bellamy reinvented the way the storm played and adjusted his side to be even more potent which inevitably got their third title.
The Storm coach has become one of the greatest and definitely the best of the modern NRL era having a tremendous 68 win percentage while being awarded coach of the 2017 year. Bellamy has infamously turned out of touch players and new prospects into gutsy and skillful players who buy into the clubs attitude with the vision of the coach he approaches each season with new goals and game plans.
The difference in one season was incredible with 2016 to 2017 a key change with Billy Slater returning and a few outside backs being added Craig Bellamy was able to identify that a less completion and higher risk play would catapult them into being the best attacking team in the competition while also having a high defensive effort each week. The Storms premiership was built on a foundation that Bellamy created which saw Melbourne chance their arm when it came to attacking and making defensive plays which was unstoppable for the entire season.
Craig Bellamy could go down as one of the greatest coaches being able to have players step into his system and thrive while also reinventing their playstyle each year successfully to get an edge on opposition. The 2018 season while defending their premiership will be interesting with Cooper Cronk retiring and a new halves pairing that Bellamy will no doubt have an incredible blueprint to be competitive and even go back-to-back premierships.
Slaters Stunning Comeback
Billy Slater after being the top fullback of the modern era for some years was struck by injury during the 2015-16 seasons having two shoulder reconstructions that could have had the Storm legend and have him retire early. Slater went through intense rehabilitation during the runner-up year that had the Melbourne side beaten by the Sharks in the grand final, the unknown factor of ever being able to play again but also being helpless towards the team during that time would have been agonizing and making most people give up.
The comeback that Slater achieved in 2017 was nothing short of incredible and could well be one of the greatest comeback stories in the games history. Billy was not only back for the duration of the season fit and firing he was the missing piece to the attacking potency that Storm were eager to have the past two seasons while also being near perfect in organizing the defence. Many thought he would never return to his ability before being injured but with the time out of the game was even fitter on and off the ball giving him the chance to represent Queensland and now selected for the World Cup.
Slaters achievements continued throughout the season totaling 17 try assists, line break assists and 11 tries to now place him for 2nd in all-time top try scorers behind Ken Irvine. The finals series approached and not only did Billy’s performances continue to be near flawless he collected most finals tries ever scored by a player and also picking up fullback of the year. In the grand final Slater was in his element cherishing another shot at the title and the champion fullback finished the match with 1 try, try assist, 2 line breaks and 170 run metres to then be crowned Clive Churchill medalist for the final game of the season and win the 2017 premiership. This stunning comeback story will be hard to beat with multiple twists and accolades, his long injury lay-off will reflect on how hard he worked to produce what he did this season after so long out of the game.
2018 GAINS AND LOSSES
Gains: Sam Kasiano (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, 2020), Ryan Papenhuyzen (Wests Tigers, 2020)
Losses: Jesse Arthars (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Dean Britt (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Slade Griffin (Newcastle Knights), Tohu Harris (New Zealand Warriors), Jordan McLean (North Queensland Cowboys), Robbie Rochow (Wests Tigers) Cooper Cronk (Undecided)
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