2021 NRL Player Movements
5 months ago | LeagueUnlimited Media
Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy defied beliefs and critics in 2020, taking the Storm to their fourth Grand Final victory in a season like no other.
With many believing this season to be the one that would finally see Melbourne drop out of the premiership race, the men from Victoria persevered to a top two finish and eventually ran out as premiers.
With the ageing Cameron Smith weighing up his future, a number of critical injury setbacks, star winger Josh Addo-Carr requesting a move home added to the whirlwind that was this year, credit has to be given to how Melbourne went about their business.
The purple haze sat at 16-4 after the home and away season away that was pulled away from their comfortable home as they set up shop in Queensland.
The Storm were dominant in the finals once again and denied a favoured Penrith outfit of an 18th straight victory and their first premiership since 2003.
Bellamy's star-studded squad were crowned the best in the league for the third time in nine years, with Smith leafs from the front once again.
While the fairytale season was a spectacle for the ages, just how strong is the Storm's premiership contention for the 2021 season?
Smith's decision to either play on or call time on his 430-game career remains no closer to being announced, while Add-Carr weighs up his options to leave for Sydney.
Tino Fa'asuamaleaui and Suliasi Vunivalu have already departed Melbourne in over to the Titans and Queensland Reds respectively.
While it was was a glamorous outfit of underdogs that pushed this side the to the end, it wont be the same in 2021.
Reports suggest Smith is set to announce his retirement in due time, leaving a void no player can fulfil.
Harry Grant is set to return to Melbourne after a stellar loan spell with Wests and will fight with Brandon Smith for the position left by Smith in the No.9.
Addo-Carr's future at the club could be the deciding factor between a fall from grace for Melbourne or a fighting swansong for Bellamy.
The NSW winger has plenty of interest from several Sydney clubs and could land back home in seconds, leaving Melbourne's plans for 2021 unstable as Addo-Carr and Smith toy with their futures.
Add in the long list of talent off contract for 2021 and concerns grow for the purple army.
Addo-Carr remains atop the list, with Dale Finucane, Jahrome Hughes, Nicho Hynes and Brenko Lee just five of the 11 players yet to commit past next year.
Hughes has already gained plenty of interest from rival clubs, with as many as seven sides monitoring the playmaker's contract situation.
On top of the pressure building internally with shaping their list for next season and beyond, rival clubs continue to show wealthy growth in their rosters.
The Panthers are the clear favourites for next season's premiership after a dominant season with san exciting young list.
Add Parramatta, South Sydney and the Raiders as three clubs who will take big steps in 2021 and the Storm's chances begin to slip in new Australian betting sites.
The Roosters will be in the hunt once again as the Chooks look determined to bounce back from their straight sets exit.
The Knights, Sharks and Titans are placed as an exciting undergo trio with plenty of room to grow and are sure to add plenty of pressure on the sides above them this season.
So with nine sides seen as a certainties to fight for a finals placing, where do Melbourne sit?
The barometer is placed on just how good their list can be in 2021 if they can hold their stars for the next 12 months.
The other end of the spectrum places a young, undermanned list at Bellamy's disposal. So just how far could the Storm drop off next year if stars choose not to play on in purple?
With Bellamy at the helm it's hard to think Melbourne will be out of the top eight, but their premiership contention certainly takes a hit with how they will line up in 2021.
Like this year and several seasons prior, the super coach is able to turn role players into stars, but next year will take a full squad effort to match their successes of this year.