2023 Melbourne Storm Preview

Following an uncharacteristically early exit from the 2022 finals and the loss of a number of experienced forwards, the Storm for the first time in many years look vulnerable to slipping down the ladder.



Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Joe Chan, Xavier Coates, Tom Eisenhuth, Harry Grant, Jordan Grant, Jack Howarth, Jahrome Hughes, Dean Ieremia, George Jennings, Tui Kamikamica, Eliesa Katoa, Josh King, Trent Loiero, Alex McDonald, Nick Meaney, Tepai Moeroa, Cameron Munster, Jayden Nikorima, Ryan Papenhuyzen, Aaron Pene, Jonah Pezet, Justin Olam, Marion Seve, Tariq Sims, Reimis Smith, Will Warbrick, Christian Welch, Tyran Wishart, Su’a Fa’alogo, Cole Geyer, Tristan Powell. Coach: Craig Bellamy. (as at February 11)


1. Ryan Papenhuyzen, 2. Nick Meaney, 3. Reimis Smith, 4. Justin Olam, 5. Xavier Coates, 6. Cameron Munster, 7. Jahrome Hughes, 8. Christian Welch, 9. Harry Grant, 10. Nelson Asofa-Solomona, 11. Tariq Sims, 12. Eliesa Katoa, 13. Tui Kamikamica, 14. Tyran Wishart, 15. Tom Eisenhuth, 16. Josh King, 17. Trent Loiero.


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Replacing nearly 800 games of forward experience will be no easy task, however the signing of Tariq Sims could prove to be one of the best decisions the Storm have ever made. His leadership and experience will be a great asset for the young forwards at the club, while he will be able to fill the hole left by the departures of both Felise Kaufusi and Kenny Bromwich.


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Cameron Munster will once again shoulder a lot of the workload for the Storm in 2023. He was in near-career best form in 2022, taking the Cameron Smith Medal as the Storm’s player of the year, winning the Dally M Five-Eighth of the Year, and playing a key role in Queensland’s State of Origin victory and Australia’s World Cup triumph.

After coming close to leaving Melbourne for the Dolphins, Munster is again going to need to be at his best if the Storm are to overcome their rocky end to last season, especially with Ryan Papenhuyzen unlikely to be fit for the start of the season and the departure of leaders like Jesse Bromwich.


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Tongan-born back rower Eliesa Katoa showed signs of how destructive he could be in 46 games at the Warriors; however he was unable to bring out his best on a consistent basis. If Craig Bellamy can unlock the secret to bringing out the best of Katoa each week, he can easily fill the backrow void left by Felise Kaufusi and Kenny Bromwich and become another one of the master coach’s cut-price success stories.


After a season crippled by injuries and star players announcing their departures, the Melbourne Storm will be keen to put 2022 behind them. For a club with such high standards, finishing 5th and being eliminated in the first week of the finals will be seen as nothing short of a complete failure.

The losses of Jesse and Kenny Bromwich and Felise Kaufusi (all to the Dolphins) and Brandon Smith (to the Roosters) will leave a big hole in the Storm’s forward pack, however the return of captain Christian Welch from the Achilles injury that ended his season after round 1 will provide a welcome boost. So too will the addition of Tariq Sims and Eliesa Katoa to fill the gaps left in the back row.

The injuries in the forwards last year also gave younger players Trent Loiero, Grant Anderson, and Alec MacDonald a taste of first grade, which will hold them in good stead for 2023. Other talented youngsters like outside back Jack Howarth, halfback Jonah Pezet and second rower Joe Chan will all be aiming for a debut in 2023.

The big question for the Storm squad surrounds the fitness of fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen. The fractured patella he suffered against Canberra looks set to keep him sidelined for the start of the season, while it will remain to be seen whether he can regain his speed when he does come back.

There will be some disruption for the Storm in 2023, forced to relocate home games against 2022 grand finalists Penrith and Parramatta due to the FIFA Women’s World Cup in July and August. Their three byes are evenly spaced throughout the season, in rounds 9, 13, and 19.

The rest of the draw is evenly balanced, only facing four 2022 finalists twice, in the form of the Panthers, Eels, Rabbitohs and Roosters, while also doubling up on the Broncos, Titans, Sea Eagles and Wests Tigers.

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