2023 NRL: Melbourne Storm Season Review

Matt Pritchard reviews the 2023 Season of the Melbourne Storm where they made the Prelim Finals.

Club Stats

Wins: 16
Losses: 8
Most Tries: 17, Will Warbrick
Most Points: 222, Nick Meaney
Cameron Smith Player of the Year: Xavier Coates

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Melbourne Storm Back Into the Top 4

The Melbourne Storm improved on their 2022 season to finish third, before being thrashed by eventual premiers the Penrith Panthers in the Prelim Final.

Phenomenally, it was the 11th time in the last 13 seasons that Melbourne have finished in the top four.

Interestingly, in making the top four they won less games (14 regular season wins) than in 2022 (15) and played in the preliminary final, compared to being bundled out in week 1 of the 2022 finals.

However, the Storm seem to have gone a few pegs back in being able to compete with the top four sides: including the Panthers, who have replaced Melbourne as the yardstick in the competition.

In 2020 and 2021 they won a combined 10 from 13 games against top four sides. Over the past two years they’ve managed just five wins from 14. Against Penrith since the 2020 Grand Final, they’ve won two of eight.

It was an excellent effort for the Storm to finish where they did, given the unavailability of Ryan Papenhuyzen through injury, and the indifferent form of Papua New Guinea International Justin Olam, who was dropped from the side at the backend of the season.

They got off to a very slow start with upset losses to the Bulldogs and Titans in consecutive weeks. From Round 5 they maintained a spot in the eight, with their best form shown in the latter stages of the regular season, where they thumped Canberra, and maintaining the roll with victories over the Dragons, Titans, and Broncos to finish the season in third.

Their best win came against the Sharks where they thrashed last year’s finalists 54-10, which came off a bounce back to what could be considered their worst performance of the year: going down to the Cowboys 45-20.

It was another frustrating year for Papenhuyzen, who managed only 130 minutes of game time upon his return from a knee injury. He suffered another setback in week 1 of the finals, breaking his ankle.

Nick Meaney once again filled in as fullback superbly with 10 tries and 222 points and improving his running game from an average 106 metres in 2022, to 147 metres in 2023.

Rugby Union convert Will Warbrick established himself in the top grade with an incredible rookie season in scoring 17 tries, including four against the Wests Tigers at Campbelltown Stadium in Round 16.

Sualauvi Fa’alogo is a player to watch after his debut performance against the Broncos in the final round of the season. Some are describing him as the “next Reece Walsh” with his raw talent. Fa’alogo currently remains in the Storm’s development list for 2024.

A host of players left the Storm at the end of the season, including Tom Eisenhuth and George Jennings. Jayden Nikorima and Tariq Sims left to continue their careers with Super League grand finalists Catalans Dragons.

Key Player Stats

Most Try Assists: 21, Jahrome Hughes
Most Line-breaks: 20, Will Warbrick
Most Run Metres: 3,694, Nick Meaney
Most Post Contact Metres: 983, Josh King
Most Tackles: 1,065, Harry Grant (NRL leader)
Most Errors: 28, Nick Meaney

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