There’s nothing wrong with the Storm
Forget climate change. Endemic poverty and hunger are mere afterthoughts. US-China relations in a globalized economy is not worth the calories you’d burn even thinking about it.
The big question for most humans on the planet these days is: what’s wrong with the Melbourne Drizzle, formerly known as the Storm?
That’s right. Diddly squat.
A better question to ask would be: what’s wrong with the NRL season schedule, which punishes good teams for producing the finest line-ups?
Also, what’s wrong with a salary cap that forces teams to continually shed players that they, through patient effort and skill, were able to develop?
Melbourne’s three best players, two of them possible future Immortals, have been getting their shiny butts kicked for seven weeks. In that time, one of them has gone down with an injury. The other two are physically spent and, more importantly, emotionally empty.
The good news for Storm fans and league in general is that Melbourne will, inevitably, return to its best form
Matthew Johns wrote a fascinating piece in the Herald recently dissecting the Storm’s play. He talked about the loss of Folau, Inglis and Matt King and how that has hurt the Storm, especially with the extra workload now placed exclusively on its pack. Well spotted and probably inarguable.
He then went on to say that teams have figured out how to defend against the Storm’s attacking structure, making better choices in relation to who’s receiving the ball.
That rings, to some extent, true: most data collected in sports would probably reflect the ability on the part of most defences to adapt (with differing levels of success) to the best offenses over time.
What is patently untrue is that these same teams have somehow ‘figured out’ the Storm, and will be able to stop them, once fully fit and back to their best form, over 80 minutes.
Because if we look at the first 12 rounds of the season, before Origin took over, teams were not, in any way, solving the problem of Melbourne’s attack.
Does Matthew Johns really think that once these guys get back to full strength they won’t pick up where they left off?
There’s no mystery here. Put the best players in the game – Cronk, Smith, Slater, Marshall, Thurston, Barba, etc., in good position on the field, nestled into a fast, precise attacking movement, and you’ll have success much of the time.
It’s a numbers game- which is why field position, achieved through ball control, forward momentum and discipline in the play-the-ball, is so vital. THAT is where Melbourne will win or lose.
Once their Big Three are healthy and energized and in the right quadrant of the field, the tries will come and Melbourne will return to being the favourite for the title.
As was often noted during the reign of Michael Jordan – you can’t stop great players, all you can do is try to contain the damage. In spite of what Matthew Johns says, it remains to be seen how well opposing clubs do that as we move away from July, and closer to September.
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