A week after Cameron Smith became the first player to reach 400 club games in the premier rugby league competition in Australia, it’s only logical to look at the performance of his club, the Melbourne Storm, for the duration of his career.
Roosters versus Storm on Friday night was a classic on so many levels and crystallised the absolute fact that these two teams, more than any others, are odds-on to still be around come October.
You could make a case for just about every player on the field for the player of the match, although they would struggle to get past Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Latrell Mitchell, both of whom had outstanding games.
I think the thing Trent Robinson might have been most pleased about though was the leadership of Luke Keary.
There was a moment before JWH finished off a brilliant team move with a try near the posts, where the Roosters were awarded a penalty just their own side of halfway. It was the sort of penalty that a lot of teams treat as a chance to catch their breath, milling about in a tight group behind the kicker who eventually whacks the ball ten metres up the sideline.
In the coverage you could see Keary screaming orders and waving his arms at his teammates, exhorting them to spread to the sidelines. The Roosters took the kick, moved the ball from one side of the field to the other, brought it back, went down the middle and scored. Phil Gould pointed out in commentary it was the movement of the ball which had brought the try, even a defence as good as Melbourne’s had lost its shape because of the width the play had given the Roosters.
This was the biggest game of the season so far. These teams will meet again and maybe they’ll meet when the game doesn’t get any bigger, just like last year.
In the final last year, Cooper Cronk played because the Roosters needed him to, despite everything. Luke Keary has learnt fast.
Just about every team that is misfiring, under-performing, has an issue with the halves. Commentators such as Andrew Johns and Johnathan Thurston pull their hair out, especially watching the Broncos at the moment. They just want to see playmakers want the ball, demand it and try to win games. Even if it all goes pear-shaped, that is better than disappearing.
The Roosters and the Storm will continue to set a pace others struggle to match this season and a large part of that is their halves absolutely demand the ball, you can barely get it off Cameron Munster in the clutch moments. Keary is a different player, but he looked like the general who gets what he wants on Friday night.
State of Origin is one big clutch moment too.