BROWNIE: Why I’m backing the Storm to go all the way
Nathan Brown says the high-flying storm will win the NRL premiership (AAP Image/Action Photographics, Renee McKay)
I had the privilege this week of spending a few days in Melbourne with the Storm and their coaching staff and it was a revelation to see just how much has changed in the four years since I last coached in the NRL.
I don’t mean on the ground, more off the field, where it was noticeable how much emphasis teams place these days on Sports Science, an area that wasn’t anywhere near as prominent a few years back.
The Storm have one of the biggest off field teams in the game, and seeing it at work, you can understand why they’ve been so successful over the past 7 years or so.
In fact, over that time period, they’ve made either the Grand Final or the Preliminary Final match every time – a feat that no other club can match.
It’s just a very well run organisation, headed up by arguably the finest coach in the game.
The time I spent there amongst the players and staff has twisted my arm a bit away from Manly as being my pick for the title and towards the Storm, who are looking super sharp and ready for the big games ahead.
That said, it’s great to see that the top four teams at the end of the competition proper are still in the race for the premiership. It’s a testament to the new finals structure which has rewarded the more consistent performers over the duration of the season.
The success this season, too, of clubs like the Bulldogs and Souths, neither of whom even made the finals last year, is a reflection on the impact of the salary cap. The effect it is having in creating a competition which is pretty equal and allows all teams a reasonable chance of winning it is a big positive. I should also mention the addition of new coaches Des Hasler and Michael Maguire to each side as well.
Contrast that to the EPL in England, which is consistently dominated by the same Big Four clubs.
The level playing field of the NRL has really kept this season interesting.
As for the matches this weekend, no revelation here: they will all be tight.
But I’m tipping the Storm to get up over Manly and Canterbury to get past the Rabbitohs, making it a Storm vs Bulldogs grand final, and pitting two of the great coaches in the game head to head.