There is always talk of the Melbourne Storm being one of the dominant teams in the NRL, but with only one legitimate title to their name in the last decade, are they really as good as we think?
You might think to yourself, ‘But they’ve won multiple premierships, how could they possibly be chokers?’, which is a fair point, in fact, that’s what I first thought of when I contemplated whether this would make a good argument.
But the more and more I thought about it, and the more evidence I ended up coming across, the more it made sense to me.
The Melbourne Storm are one of the few NRL sides that have been blessed with a terrific core of players, of course being Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith, not to mention more recently the representative players Jesse Bromwich, Will Chambers, Tohu Harris and Kevin Proctor.
And let’s not forget one of the best, if not the best, coach of the modern game, Craig Bellamy, who is able to turn rocks into diamonds.
Yet for some reason, this team doesn’t compete in as many grand finals as they should.
I understand that teams can’t make it every year, but with the squads they have been able to assemble, as well as the high standards they always set in the regular season, you would think that more likely than not they would have competed for the big one, but instead they’ve faltered at the final hurdle, with very little coverage or questioning.
Like I mentioned before, there is evidence showing the Storm’s trends of choking since their last premiership in 2012.
Hark back to 2013, where once again the Storm were in the top four and favourites to win the competition. The team finished third after the regular season, and headed to Sydney to face the Rabbitohs, who had a stellar season but had a very poor record against the Victorian side.
On the night however, the Storm fell 20-10 and were outmuscled against the huge Souths side, but would get another chance at home the week later.
They then lost to the Knights, playing in their first finals series under Wayne Bennett, with a generally inexperienced side, which was a massive choke, especially being in Melbourne. The team fell out of the finals in straight sets.
The next year was even worse, with the team losing at home 28-4 against the Bulldogs, who at the time had no wind in their sails, but eventually made it to the grand final. Another game that should have easily been won, but no one made a fuss.
Finally this year, they crumbled against the Cronulla Sharks. While a lot of wind was in the Sharks’ sails, the Storm could have easily crashed the party and very well nearly did. With so little expectation on them, it was the perfect opportunity to break their recent hoodoo, but once again they fell at the final hurdle, and now 2016 will just be another ‘what if’ year for them.
I feel like the Storm’s biggest problem is the way they try and sprint in a marathon race, and they put too much pressure on themselves to be the best team in the regular season.
Eventually their form plateaus, and when the finals come around other teams have gained momentum heading into the finals, while the Storm is unable to go up another gear.
Perhaps it’s time for Bellamy to slightly tweak with the way his team operates. So many times over the last few seasons they’ve been touted as either premiership favourites or contenders, yet they never improve during the finals, and just continue to get beaten by teams who have that momentum going into October.
A lot of people will disagree with me on this and think I’m absolutely insane, but I believe that the Melbourne Storm are the new chokers of the NRL.