As the National Rugby League season draws closer for another year of action, we look at how the Melbourne Storm will fare in 2020.
The bitter disappointment of missing out on the 2019 premiership will be at the forefront of the Storm’s mind heading into the new season. Following a long break, their youthful spine and destructive forward pack should be fired up and ready to tackle the 2020 season to leave rivals in their wake.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Brenko Lee (Gold Coast Titans), Ryley Jacks (Gold Coast Titans), Aaron Pene (Queensland Cup – Central Queensland Capras), Darryn Schonig (Queensland Cup – Sunshine Coast Falcons), Isaac Lumelume (Queensland Cup – Easts Tigers).
Will Chambers (Japanese Rugby), Solomone Kata (Super Rugby), Joe Stimson (Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs), Billy Walters (Wests Tigers), Curtis Scott (Canberra Raiders), Brodie Croft (Brisbane Broncos).
Top 30 Squad: Josh Addo-Carr, Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Jesse Bromwich, Kenny Bromwich, Sandor Earl, Thomas Eisenhuth, Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, Dale Finucane, Harry Grant, Jahrome Hughes, Nicho Hynes, Ryley Jacks, Cooper Johns, Tui Kamikamica, Felise Kaufusi, Max King, Brenko Lee, Isaac Lumelume, Cameron Munster, Justin Olam, Ryan Papenhuyzen, Aaron Pene, Darryn Schonig, Marion Seve, Brandon Smith, Cameron Smith, Albert Vete, Suliasi Vunivalu, Christian Welch.
Spots Available: One.
Development Squad: Kelma Tuilagai, Dean Ieremia.
Sea Eagles (A), Sharks (A), Panthers (H), Rabbitohs (H), Titans (H).
WHAT TO EXPECT
Following the toughest pre-season the Storm have ever endured (well, at least according to reports), they should be raring to go come round one. Although the departure of Will Chambers, Curtis Scott and Joe Stimson has left a void of experience, it is expected that Craig Bellamy will (yet again) unearth a cluster of previously unheralded rookies to fill their shoes. The Storm’s spine still remains the biggest unknown for 2020. The loss of halfback Brodie Croft to the Brisbane Broncos begs the question: will Jahrome Hughes will be given the nod to assume the playmaker’s duty, or will Bellamy put faith in returning half Ryley Jacks, or emerging star Cooper Johns? Despite which way he opts, the Storm’s success in 2020 is contingent on how well and how freely they are steered around the park.
The 2019 season was a breakout year for young prodigy Ryan Papenhuyzen, who dazzled fans week-after-week with his blinding speed and ability to slice through defensive lines to set the game alight. Provided that he can secure and maintain the starting fullback position, expect to see more of his 2019 brilliance in 2020. The fact that he’s only got 22 games under his belt is also an exciting prospect for Storm fans.
In comparison to other clubs, the Storm’s incoming crop of talent for 2020 is relatively small. The recruitment of Brenko Lee (Gold Coast Titans) has added more depth to the Storm’s backline, and will give Craig Bellamy another option when it comes to choosing who’ll lace up the boots and fill the vacant spots left by talented centres Chambers and Scott. The Storm are also welcoming Jacks (Gold Coast Titans) back into the fold, who’ll no doubt be pressing every claim for a chance to wear the coveted number seven jersey in round one. Both Lee and Jacks are welcome additions to the Storm’s line-up for 2020.
Commensurate with the luck in having a bye in the week prior to Origin one is the Storm’s misfortune of three five-day turnarounds in six weeks (between rounds three to nine). Having to wait until round three to play at AAMI Park is evened out by their run of home games against the North Queensland Cowboys, Sydney Roosters and Brisbane Broncos in the final few weeks of the season. Overall, the Storm’s draw is relatively kind and has a nice balance between home and away fixtures.
Top Tryscorer – Suliasi Vunivalu.
Top Pointscorer – Cameron Smith.
Club Player of the Year – Cameron Munster.
WHERE WILL THE MELBOURNE STORM FINISH?
Provided that the Storm can solidify their spine within the first few rounds and maintain consistency for the duration of the season, they will be in a favourable position come September. Barring injuries, an appearance in the 2020 grand final is well within their reach.