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Melbourne Storm 2010 Season Preview
2009 could not have been a better year for the Melbourne Storm. Reaching the Grand Final for the 4th year in succession and winning it for the second time, their play was sometimes regarded as boring. But when it counted on Grand Final day, they put in a stellar performance to shut down a red hot Parramatta outfit.
2010 shapes as somewhat of an interesting year for the boys from Victoria. The club farewelled one of their greatest players in the history of the club - Dallas Johnson, and also bid farewell to promising youngsters Will Chambers and the exciting Joseph Tomane.
On the staffing front there have been also been two major changes for the Storm in 2010. Within the administration of the club, CEO Brian Waldron has switched codes to take on the Melbourne Rebels job, while on the coaching front long-time assistant head coach Michael McGuire has left for greener pastures to take up a role as head coach with the Wigan Warriors in England. But the significant factor that has not changed however, is the stability with head coach Craig Bellamy.
Bellamy has once again proven that he is fantastic at identifying talent to replace those lost due to salary cap by purchasing the likes of Sione (John) Kite, Todd Lowrie, Luke MacDougall and Chase Stanley for the 2010 season, along with promoting promising youngsters in Aiden Tolman and Matt Duffie.
The first month of the 2010 season is set to be difficult for the Storm who have been hit with a spate of injuries to key players such as Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk, Greg Inglis, Brett White, and also new recruit Chase Stanley who was vying for the starting centre position vacated by Will Chambers. Further disruption comes in the form of their new home - Melbourne Rectangular Stadium - not being ready until May, forcing them to play home games out of Etihad Stadium for the opening eight weeks.
The 2010 season will likely start slow for the Storm while players regain peak fitness, however, once they are firing on all cylinders you can count on the combination of Bellamy and the Melbourne Storm being in the finals mix once again in 2010.
Signings: Gains: Chase Stanley (Dragons), Sione (John) Kite (Bulldogs), Todd Lowrie (Eels), Luke MacDougall (Knights), Ateala Vea (Sharks) Losses: Dallas Johnson (Catalans, ESL), Joseph Tomane (Titans), Will Chambers (Queensland RU), Wairangi Koopu (retired).
Predicted best lineup: 1. Billy Slater 2. Matt Duffie 3. Dane Nielsen 4. Greg Inglis 5. Anthony Quinn 6. Brett Finch 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Aiden Tolman 9. Cameron Smith 10. Jeff Lima 11. Adam Blair 12. Ryan Hoffman 13. Todd Lowrie Interchange: 14. Brett White 15. Sika Manu 16. Kevin Proctor 17. Ryan Hinchcliffe
Player to watch: Kevin Proctor After showing glimpses of potential in 2009 , the 2010 season is set to be a huge year for the "Proctologist". He is already a cult figure in Melbourne being labelled the new sideshow Bob (due to his tremendous haircut), however his talent more than warrants the reputation he has been gaining. Proctor is a tough, hard-nosed second-rower who has great vision within the game. He will most definitely be in the mix for a starting position at some point this season. Look for him to be an even more apparent fixture in the Storm line up now Bellamy