RESULTS: 2021 QRL U19 Harvey Norman Girls Round 1
17 hours ago | LeagueUnlimited Media
Melbourne Storm all but confirmed club great Cameron Smith wouldn't be returning to the club in 2021 after appointing their new-look leadership group for the upcoming season.
Veteran duo Jesse Bromwich and Dale Finucane have been appointed to share the honours of succeeding Smith as Storm captains, with the club now entering a new era following his destined departure.
The 37-year-old played over 430 games in purple and leaves a void at AAMI Park that will never be matched. But it shouldn't be all doom and gloom in Melbourne, with the club likely to be just as competitive for the premiership as they remain as great value for the title. This is similar in some ways to England retaining the Six Nations title according to recent data that was published by Betway that examined the past 10 tournaments.
In what seems like perfect timing, the Storm will welcome back young gun Harry Grant from his 12-month loan spell at the Tigers, with the heavily-touted hooker ending his first full season as the Dally M Rookie of the Year.
Added to his individual successes, Grant was a key figure in Queensland's historic State of Origin series win, coming into an undermanned Maroons outfit and turning the game on it's head.
While the 23-year-old is unlikely to reach the feats of Smith, Storm fans will be more than satisfied if he ends his career with even half of the honours and ability of his former teammate.
Along with Grant, New Zealand international Brandon Smith has also shown glimpses of becoming a star rake for the future and another exciting prospect firing under coach Craig Bellamy.
While the exciting duo will add plenty of competition to fill the void left by Smith, there are endless role players set to thrive in his absence.
Despite entering the twilight of their careers, both Bromwich and Finucane are set to take their games to exciting new avenues as captains, willing to prove themselves in their new roles.
Kenny Bromwich, Cameron Munster, Felise Kaufusi and Christian Welch have also been named in Melbourne's leadership group for 2021, while the club named a further six players in an ‘emerging' leadership group.
The selections prove the overflowing amount of natural leaders Bellamy has at his disposal are ready to look ahead to the future rather than the rear-vision mirror.
The exciting rise of Clive Churchill medallist Ryan Papenhuyzen is just another example of the endless star talent coming through the ranks at Melbourne.
It's a story we've seen plenty of in the past and it won't be slowing down any time soon amid the loss of the club's greatest ever.
Melbourne had nine players earn a call up to their respective Origin squads last year, none of which named Cameron Smith.
Once again, Melbourne will be offering similar figures for representative contention this year and will carry on with business as usual without their illustrious playmaker.