Here is the next part in this six-part series on the NRL’s most powerful clubs.
Melbourne have won their past 16 NRL games when not playing the week before, with the Storm’s ability to start fast likely to help them after the game’s hiatus.
Melbourne’s ability to start fast and play clinical football might give them the biggest advantage if the NRL’s hiatus ends late next month.
The Storm are one of six teams undefeated through the opening two rounds of the competition, after wins over Manly and Cronulla. They are also renowned as the best starters in the competition.
They have won their past 18 Round 1 matches, going undefeated on the opening weekend of the season since coach Craig Bellamy’s signing in 2003.
Crucially, they’ve also won their past 16 matches after a week off, dating back to 2016, be it after a bye, representative round, in the finals or at the season’s start.
Also playing into Melbourne’s hands is their clinical nature, according to former champion Melbourne halfback Cooper Cronk.
“I think Melbourne and Canberra are positioned perfectly,” Cronk told Fox League Live.
“Basically, what is going to win you footy games is good defence, high completions and a good kicking game.
“Make the other teams make errors and then you kick on afterwards. And Melbourne has been doing that for a long period of time.
“(They) haven’t lost a Round 1 under Craig Bellamy since his beginning. So you would imagine that trend is going to continue.”
A shorter season should also favour teams who have recorded early wins.
The NRL is still to decide the exact format of the schedule depending on meetings this week with broadcasters.
However, it’s believed the most likely scenario will be 15 rounds plus some additional rounds for rivalry matches.
An 18-round season, for instance, would likely mean a team could only afford nine losses at the most to make the finals.
And that would place extra pressure on the six teams who have lost both their opening games, including two-time defending premiers the Sydney Roosters.
“It’s going to be a real mental battle for a lot of teams who are 0-2,” says Cronk, who remains on the Roosters’ coaching staff.