SQUADS: Betfred Championship - 2023 Round 2
38 hours ago | LeagueUnlimited Media
Stormy seas for Bellamy's men despite heroic season
You might think a first round exit from the finals would mean the 2022 season was an unmitigated disaster for a Craig Bellamy coached side.
But, when you look deeper at all the injury problems that plagued the Storm's chances, it's a minor miracle that they finished as high as they did, mirroring the efforts of the Sydney Roosters from just twelve months prior.
The injury problems began on the opening night of the season, losing George Jennings and Christian Welch with season-ending injuries prior to their round 1 match against the Wests Tigers concluding.
That was the sign that Melbourne's season would be governed by the injury gods.
Despite this, the Storm went on a flawless start to the season, dropping just one of their first nine matches - a golden point loss against the Eels at home.
A 42-6 blowout win over the Dragons on a fine Sunday afternoon in Round 9 saw Melbourne's finals charge implode with a series of injuries. Reimis Smith, Ryan Papenhuyzen and Jahrome Hughes failed to finish and would all miss multiple weeks on the sideline.
In the two weeks Hughes was out, Melbourne would lose to the Cowboys and Panthers by the combined margin of 68-12. This was the sign to many that they were considerably off the pace.
Despite a horror mid-year losing streak, the Storm were able to turn the tide and secure a home final before coming up short against the Raiders at home - who had also managed to down them two months prior at the same venue.
The emergence of Harry Grant as the best hooker in the game. We knew he was good, but 2022 proved just how good he was.
Also promising was the return of a booze-free Cam Munster, fresh off an off-season he'd rather forget. Munster was the cog that kept the Storm in operation.
That mid-year losing streak. They were that far below their best it wasn't funny. With the exception of their late rally against Manly, their attack had all the grace of a bowling ball in a pond.
Whilst it wasn't helped with Papenhuyzen's horror knee injury and Brandon Smith's abusive tirade towards a referee, the Storm were considerably under-par against future top eight opponents. Despite this, they managed to stumble into the finals and fell just one win short of a top four berth.
|1||Mar 12th||Sat 7:35pm||A||Wests Tigers||W||26||-||16||CommBank||10,025||4th|
|2||Mar 17th||Thu 8:05pm||H||Souths||W||15||-||14||AAMI||13,269||3rd|
|3||Mar 26th||Sat 5:30pm||H||Parramatta||L||24||-||28||AAMI||15,691||5th|
|4||Apr 3rd||Sun 4:00pm||H||Canterbury||W||44||-||0||AAMI||13,437||2nd|
|5||Apr 9th||Sat 3:00pm||A N||Canberra||W||30||-||16||Wagga||8,133||2nd|
|6||Apr 16th||Sat 7:30pm||H||Cronulla||W||34||-||18||AAMI||16,286||2nd|
|7||Apr 25th||Mon 6:00pm||H||Warriors||W||70||-||10||AAMI||22,696||2nd|
|8||May 1st||Sun 2:00pm||A||Newcastle||W||50||-||2||McD. Jones||15,895||2nd|
|9||May 8th||Sun 2:00pm||H||St Geo Illa||W||42||-||6||AAMI||11,723||1st|
|10||May 14th||Sat 7:45pm||H N||Penrith||L||6||-||32||Suncorp||41,593||2nd|
|11||May 21st||Sat 5:30pm||A||North Qld||L||6||-||36||QLD C.B.||22,728||2nd|
|12||May 26th||Thu 7:50pm||H||Manly||W||28||-||8||AAMI||10,168||2nd|
|14||Jun 11th||Sat 5:30pm||A||Sydney||W||26||-||18||SCG||12,925||2nd|
|15||Jun 17th||Fri 7:55pm||H||Brisbane||W||32||-||20||AAMI||18,586||2nd|
|16||Jun 30th||Thu 7:50pm||A||Manly||L||30||-||36||4 Pines||8,168||2nd|
|17||Jul 7th||Thu 7:50pm||A||Cronulla||L||6||-||28||Pointsbet||7,868||3rd|
|18||Jul 17th||Sun 4:05pm||H||Canberra||L||16||-||20||AAMI||16,106||4th|
|19||Jul 23rd||Sat 7:35pm||A||Souths||L||12||-||24||Accor||11,217||5th|
|20||Jul 29th||Fri 8:00pm||A||Warriors||W||24||-||12||Mt Smart||18,395||4th|
|21||Aug 5th||Fri 6:00pm||H||Gold Coast||W||32||-||14||AAMI||10,869||4th|
|22||Aug 11th||Thu 7:50pm||A||Penrith||W||16||-||0||BlueBet||15,612||4th|
|23||Aug 19th||Fri 7:55pm||A||Brisbane||W||60||-||12||Suncorp||42,612||4th|
|24||Aug 26th||Fri 7:55pm||H||Sydney||L||14||-||18||AAMI||25,308||4th|
|25||Sep 1st||Thu 7:50pm||A||Parramatta||L||14||-||22||CommBank||23,758||5th|
|EF||Sep 10th||Sat 5:40pm||H||Canberra||L||20||-||28||AAMI||20,838||5th|
For me, there's three players that made the Storm what they were in 2022.
The aforementioned Harry Grant is the best hooker in the competition - and if there was any doubt about it, there isn't now. Grant emerged as the best through his creativity in attack and a stout defensive resilience.
Also noted previously, Cameron Munster proved himself following an off-season from hell, scoring 11 tries and setting up a further 16 across the campaign.
Another key name was Jahrome Hughes, his name now being mentioned as one of the elite halves in the competition.
2022 saw the Storm blood three new faces.
Alec MacDonald was the pick of the three debutants with the bench forward impressing many within the club with his solid work rate. After joining the club on a train and trial deal, MacDonald played twelve matches and scored his first try against the Sharks in early July.
Grant Anderson also debuted mid-year and crossed for two tries against the Roosters. He would go onto play 6 matches.
Tyran Wishart was the last of the debutants, playing across a variety of positions in his 15 matches in 2022, if he can secure a position in the off-season, then the sky is the limit for Tyran.
Everyone will be quick to look at the gains and losses list and write Melbourne off in 2023.
But this is Melbourne - and we've seen this movie way too many times before. Out of the squad are the Bromwich brothers, Felise Kaufusi and Brandon Smith. Coming into the side are Tariq Sims, Eli Katoa, Aaron Pene and Joe Chan. There's going to be questions about the talent lost, but if anyone can turn water into wine in coaching, it's Craig Bellamy.
There will be early stormy seas, but can the talent left behind at AAMI Park fill the void?
at time of writing
1. Ryan Papenhuyzen
2. Xavier Coates
3. Reimis Smith
4. Justin Olam
5. Nick Meaney
6. Cam Munster
7. Jahrome Hughes
8. Nelson Asofa-Solomona
9. Harry Grant
10. Christian Welch
11. Tariq Sims
12. Eli Katoa
13. Josh King
14. Tyran Wishart
15. Joe Chan
16. Aaron Pene
17. Tui Kamikamica
Statistics: Rugby League Project